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  • USPTO Director Michelle Lee has resigned without warning

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    Posted on ARS Technica, by Joe Mullin

    "The future is unclear with Lee, a favored candidate of tech companies, moving on.

    Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office Michelle Lee resigned today, without explanation.

    Lee, who has been director of the office since 2014, was a favored candidate by the tech sector, who thought she brought a balanced approach to patents. She is a former Google lawyer and was one of the first corporate lawyers to speak out about the problem of so-called "patent trolls." Lee took office at a time when the tech sector was at odds with the pharmaceutical lobby and trial lawyers over a proposed patent-reform law, which did not end up passing.

    Leadership at the USPTO has been unclear since the Trump administration transitioned into power in January. Early news reports said that Lee, an Obama appointee, would remain. But that was followed by a period of a few months in which the USPTO wouldn't even confirm who was director.

    In April, more than 50 companies, including Facebook and Cisco, sent a letter to President Trump asking him to keep Lee on board, believing the office would apply stricter standards to technology and software patents under her leadership.

    The USPTO director is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. There's no telling how long the position will take to fill. The Trump administration still has not submitted nominees for 431 positions that require Senate appointment, according to The Washington Post. The lack of nominees, combined with a somewhat slower confirmation process in the Senate, has resulted in a far slower staff-up than any recent presidency.
    "I am confident that the leadership team in place will serve you well during this transition," Lee told her colleagues in a memo that was obtained by the Post." [Read More at ARSTechnica.com]