General Franco Is Still Dead And Michelle Lee Is Still Director Of The US Patent Office

from the moving-on dept

Last month, we wrote about the truly bizarre situation in which no one in the federal government seemed willing to say who was in charge of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). You see, there had been widespread reports right before the inauguration that the current director, Michelle Lee (who’s been really, really good at the job) was being kept on in that role. But, for some reason, the Commerce Department’s website listed the role as vacant. And there were a series of other confusing and conflicting signs. But the most bizarre part was that the USPTO and the Commerce Department simply refused to say who was in charge. Which is… weird.

Late on Friday, it appears that the Commerce Department responded to two separate FOIA requests simultaneously, from the two sites that had been covering the issue most closely, Patently-O and IP Watchdog, confirming that Lee remains the Director:

Dennis Crouch, who runs Patently-O, notes that, while it’s bizarre that no one would respond (especially since Lee was retaining the role, not moving into it…), it’s time to move on. IP Watchdog, who has long hated Lee for daring to recognize that over patenting and bad patents can be serious problems, is still agitating to get Lee removed. Thankfully, that looks like a long shot. And that’s doubly good, since one of the other people gunning for the slot was former chief judge at CAFC (the appeals court that handles patent cases) Randall Rader. Rader, who resigned over an ethics scandal, was a key component in making the patent system worse during his time on the court. So, for now, at least, a bullet has been dodged.

Still, it’s quite bizarre that this whole thing happened in the first place. What was so hard about having the USPTO or Commerce Department just admit that Michelle Lee was still the director?

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Comments on “General Franco Is Still Dead And Michelle Lee Is Still Director Of The US Patent Office”

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MDT (profile) says:

Not unusual

Trump’s Whitehouse gave orders that nobody was supposed to communicate without them signing off on the content. This was, I suspect, primarily directed toward the EPA over climate change, but unless I’m mistaken the presidential order was to all executive branch offices, which meant PTO had it’s hands tied, it couldn’t update it’s website or respond to questions without approval.

And I suspect the PTO was a very low priority for the WH, so thus it took them over a month to ‘OK’ telling the truth to everyone. *shrug*

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Why is it that ...

Wow, that’s deep. If those who cannot come up with new ideas overvalue them, why? I would like people who can’t invent would want the benefit of the inventions without the sweat it takes to produce them. Like, Michael Masnick, in the several forms he takes on in this forum. Since you are arguing a different point of view, I assume you just might be someone else. But maybe not, Mike is really good at disguises. So, what do you think?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why is it that ...

That sounds right to me. I heard Google was actually responsible for getting Michelle her job, and her job was exactly that. Subvert the intent of patent law. She’s good at hiding her intent, though, isn’t she? Quite like the other phony voices on this web site (not yours, of course, you sound legitimate).

David says:


Still, it’s quite bizarre that this whole thing happened in the first place. What was so hard about having the USPTO or Commerce Department just admit that Michelle Lee was still the director?

As long as the USPTO does not admit to being run by Michelle Lee, Trump does not know to fire her.

It’s similar to the EPA stalling on providing the Trumpets with a list of scientists having lent support to human-caused climate change theses.

The USPTO feels that they are doing a good job under direction of Lee, so they want to keep her out of the focus of the "good is bad" Trump government for as long as possible.

Only a dysfunctional agency offers its officials the individual leeway to wallow in corruption^W^W^W flexibly respond to the needs of a free market economy.

You can see how this works with the FCC.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Easy.

You know the other thing I find amazing? That so many of the (supposedly) independent writers here are using EXACTLY the same format. They take legitimate stuff, italicize it, then speak to it in separated paragraphs. Wow, isn’t that interesting? That particular format never came to my mind, and even seeing other people do it provides no incentive, it just looks stupid to me. But consistently stupid looking, in exactly the same way, shared by LOTS of commentators. And they always seem to be making the same point as Michael Masnick does, and no other. Does that seem amazing to you? Oh, I forgot, there is almost NO ONE other than the Friends of TechDirt here, whom (so far) I count to be 3 actual individuals, max. Test me. Look at “block and tackle” with italics posts – same people, again and again, right? Real people are just not that consistent. They take pride in their individualism. Not like these socialist impersonators.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Easy.

OK, here’s one. I’ll bet you $100 that least ONE of my comments finds it’s way to those Excess Pages that the Email inventor asked to file just recently. What do you say? Second, admit that this is fun, to look under the wispy little headstones of my comments to see what I had to say. Admit it, really good, right? It’s a like a new pastime. And come on, timing how long it takes for the Socialists to FIND my little comments? Priceless, right? It used to take a day, then half a day, then an hour, and now BAM – they lazy socialists are having to stay up all night just to silence me. Fun, no? And interesting! How long can those lazy socialists keep it up? Any bets? Next, want to know my plan? Disguise my voice! Like, say something socialist, and not mean it (cross my fingers), and see if they WackaMole me! Great, no?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Easy.

Wow, that was weird. I just had a dream, and in my dream, there was that Email guy, but he looked like Mike, but with a hot (and funny) wife. And he was saying “I invented Email, really I did, just look at the interlocking doliwig”, and then I saw a patent drawing, and then I wanted to scream “NO YOU DIDN’T, your argument is just too complex!”, and, I just couldn’t recover my sanity and get back to sleep at all. So, I thought someone here might able to help me, you guys talk about this all the time, right, like obsessively. So, all you obsessive little Email inventor guy people, have you had this dream? I mean, if we all had it, that’s something, right? Or is it only me? Here I am, you little wakamole comment burying socialists, you must have dreams, too, right? Well, maybe not, not sure you’re human at all, after all. Anyway, a little help, please?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Easy.

Which leads me, of course, to my conclusion of the day. The one thing that I did NOT see in my dream are buried comments, like this one. Buried, buried alive, buried alive, ahhhhh. (Who said that, someone famous said that, right? KAHN! You like movies, right, Mike, as PaulT, right?) Anyway, All things considered, his argument is a little complex, your argument is that you must CENSOR anyone that you don’t like, so no one can CENSOR you. That’s it right? And somehow that is good for us. I don’t say it’s totally without merit, it’s at least confusing, which is more than nothing! It’s something. You must CENSOR but can’t be CENSORED. I get that. Wait. How about I must CENSOR you so you can’t CENSOR me. About the same, right? I get it! What the hell? It’s a tricky one, all right. You censor me, I censor you, everybody censors everybody, all the time, forever, and we hear only ourselves. I see that as one possible good outcome, I like to hear myself. I’m very intelligent! OR OR OR: No one censors, you don’t censor, I don’t censor, and we have at it, right here, right now, in front of God and everybody. That’s (2) possible outcomes versions of your argument, am I right? And rest are self-contradictory paradoxical black hole ridden imponderable and psychotic messes. Right? Right? Right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Easy.

And tell the truth, the whole “shun the mole” (there are no moles, idiot) (sorry, I mean troll, not mole) is because you RAN OUT OF THINGS TO SAY! Right? Am I right? See, that’s another difference between us. I have a LOT of things to say, and you have NOTHING TO SAY.! Wow, good, argument, right? Those Hamiltonians, I’m tellin ya, Watch ’em! The Capital will soon be in Florreeeda. And, you’ll be happy about it!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Easy.

Guess What! I just had a call from Simon & Schuster about publishing my comments! $25,000, they said it’s the same thing they offered Milo (don’t know him) but the deal fell through. Wow! $25,000, that’s great, no? And just for my stuff that’s buried, which is, of course, everything. They said it would have long term value, like most things, after TechDirt was dead. That would be ironic, no? That all that was left of TechDirt, in the end, after all the dust settles, are MY COMMENTS! Ouch! And, I’ll be rich! (rich already, don’t actually care, just being funny, in case you are not sure) Please don’t reply, not interested (learned that from Mike)

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey Mike! Truth be told Simon and Shuster called quite a while back, kind of put me up to this whole thing. And, since I’m pretty sure that TechDirt Poof will soon be a reality, I download your whole web site today (really, check your records). At the moment, I’m reviewing software from the FBI for Speaker Recognition in forums like these. Really interesting stuff. Basically, you create a Speaker Model based on Feature Extraction. Then, you run the suspect text through a really quick little algorithm, and WHAM! You get a decision, with a high likelihood of correctness, of identifying same or different speakers. Amazing, no? You remember how Stephen T. Stone spoke about how he recognized my speech? Exactly! So, tonight (can’t sleep anyway), I’m going to see how it all turns out, examining ALL of the speaking ever published on the TechDirt site. Interesting, no? And like most things, I can rig it, because I have a secret government contract, and a spiritual master who will guide me. Yes, I do, he even sends me secret messages, on this very web site! And he promised me I can use it all in court! And publish it! And sell it! For MEMEMEMEMEMEMEME! (and not you) (sorry, I’m a capitalist, that’s how it goes)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

In all seriousness, Michael Masnick, you do understand the gravity of the circumstances you would face, should it be proven that you are in fact Stephen T. Stone, PaulT (that’s my bet) or others, right? You understand the gravity, yes? Fatal. Your case is lost and you will face horrific consequences, at the hands of the man you defamed, and then defamed again while posing as an imposter. If that’s you, Mike, in either form, fatal. Trust me on that.

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