Director's Blog: the latest from USPTO leadership

« Building a Better... | Blog homepage | Celebrating our #1... »
Thursday Jan 23, 2014

Moving Forward in 2014

Blog by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle Lee

Over the last five years, working in concert with Congress and the Obama administration, the USPTO has built a firmer foundation to support a more effective IP system. The agency continues to optimize the quality and efficiency of our patent and trademark examinations, as well as strengthen our overall patent system through the implementation of the historic 2011 Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. The USPTO has enhanced the IP process for American businesses by launching a network of regional satellite offices and establishing bilateral and multilateral IP agreements with offices from other nations. I am particularly excited about the satellite offices (located in Dallas, Denver, Detroit and Silicon Valley), as they bring many of the services offered by the USPTO closer to more communities, provide excellent venues for stakeholder and public engagement, and offer enhanced opportunities for the agency to recruit and retain top talent. All of this enables the agency to issue better quality patents and trademarks, not to mention increased customer satisfaction for the users of our services. In short, the agency’s senior leadership has made good progress to ensure our country has a strong and robust patent and trademark system for the 21st century.

We aim to keep up that work and do even more in the coming years. Going forward, the USPTO will continue to actively engage with our stakeholders, members of Congress from both political parties, as well as with others in the administration, to further improve our patent and patent litigation systems. That includes supporting Congress’ current consideration of legislation to target abusive patent litigation tactics and speed resolution of disputes over IP rights. And the USPTO will work to further the U.S. Department of Commerce’s vital role in ensuring the effective protection of IP to encourage innovation and retain America’s global competitiveness in a rapidly evolving online marketplace. I am especially eager to work with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to ”foster a more innovative U.S. economy—one that is better at inventing, improving and commercializing products and technologies that lead to higher productivity and competitiveness,” one of the key strategic goals articulated in the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.”

Most importantly, my team and I will continue to work with all our stakeholders and user communities to assess new challenges and identify new opportunities to build an agile system of IP protections that catalyzes innovation, incentivizes commercial research and development, and promotes good jobs that support our nation’s competitive edge.

Having been born and raised in Silicon Valley—one of the most innovative regions in our nation—and having built my 25-year career as an engineer and IP attorney there, I have spent most of my life focused on creating innovative technologies and/or supporting and enabling those who do. It is indeed an honor to be able to continue on this path at the USPTO in my new role as Deputy Director of the agency. I am committed to working together with all our stakeholders to advance our shared goal of fueling the unique American ingenuity that fuels our nation’s job growth and economy.

It is a tremendous honor to begin my new role this month as Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). I have served the USPTO for the last few years, first as a member of the agency’s Patent Public Advisory Committee and most recently as the first Director of the Silicon Valley USPTO. Through those roles, I have seen the incredible accomplishments the agency has made toward advancing a balanced intellectual property (IP) system that promotes innovation, supports economic growth, and helps create American jobs. I am eager to help the agency carry forward the progress it has made over the last few years.


In the long run, we must look for an alternative to traditional patents for many independent inventors. One alternative is an inventors’ certificate. In this process, USPTO staffers would take inputs written by the applicants and help the applicants to write their own claims. The application for an inventors’ certificate would be examined in the same manner as a patent application. Issued inventors’ certificates would then be enforced to a limited degree by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Inventors’ certificates could be sold as patents are. However, the DOJ enforcement services would only be provided to the original inventor who is the certificate owner. This is a significant step away from the current patent which is a license to sue in court. With the inventors’ certificate the independent inventor and the Federal government become temporary partners in the protection of each new invention.

Posted by Nickolaus E. Leggett on January 27, 2014 at 10:57 AM EST #

Congratulations! We were so pleased to hear of your new role as the Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. We trust that you will continue to work for a balanced intellectual property (IP) system that promotes innovation. Please be aware that you have our full support. We wish you all the best as you represent us. Stephen Powers Gulf Coast Intellectual Property Group

Posted by Stephen Powers on February 12, 2014 at 10:46 AM EST #

Post a Comment:
Comments are closed for this entry.