Ex-Google lawyer named USPTO head

2013_12_MLee Michelle K. Lee has been tapped as USPTO’s deputy undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and deputy director. (Photo: USPTO)

Starting mid-January, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office headquarters in Alexandria, Va., will add an already-familiar name to its leadership.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on Dec. 11 named Michelle K. Lee the next deputy director of USPTO and deputy undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and deputy director.


Lee currently is director of USPTO’s Silicon Valley satellite office and will assume her new duties Jan. 13, 2014.

During the past 25 years, Lee focused on various key facets of patent law, technology and innovation policy in private practice, industry, and the executive and judicial branches of the federal government. Her most recent role before USPTO was at Google, serving as deputy general counsel. In addition, Lee was Google’s first head of patents and patent strategy.

Lee also served as a partner at a law firm where she advised various high-technology clients on all aspects of patent law, intellectual property, litigation and corporate matters. Prior to that role, Lee worked in the federal judiciary, serving as a law clerk.

Before her legal career, Lee worked as a computer scientist at Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratories as well as at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

After Lee assumes her new responsibilities in January, John Cabeca, senior adviser to the undersecretary for intellectual property, will serve as director of the Silicon Valley satellite office until the permanent office in San Jose City Hall becomes operational.

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