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Michelle Lee – D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Tech 2015

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Michelle Lee

Director and Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

From software engineers to brand logo designers, innovators who want to register their patents or trademarks rely on Michelle Lee's agency to process their applications.

“[O]ur ability to achieve that mission relies on how well our IT systems perform," she told FedScoop in an email. “In order to provide the public with that level of quality service, our IT systems need to not only run well, but to be brought up to modern standards."

Indeed, the patent office is working on updating one of its major platforms: its “Patents End to End" system, which will provide one interface for examiners to perform tasks that are currently conducted in a number of separate systems.

We cannot develop our economy to its full potential unless we ensure no innovator or entrepreneur is left behind, and that includes women.

At the same time, the agency is unveiling its MyUSPTO, which will allow users to access a range of USPTO services using a single login.

Lee was just confirmed in March to head the patent office, but she has essentially led the agency as deputy director since then-Director David Kappos departed in 2013. Lee has strong tech ties: She's Google's former deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy, and she was the first director of USPTO's Silicon Valley office.

Lee said she takes her new role as the first woman to lead the patent office seriously. When she was at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, this month, Lee said she pushed the tech industry to be more inclusive, and to empower women to find and keep roles in STEM fields.

“I do not think that we can innovate or develop our economy to its full potential unless we ensure that no innovator or entrepreneur is left behind, and that includes women," she said.

– Whitney Blair Wyckoff

Read the full story about this year's selection of D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Technology, and view the full list here.