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?