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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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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 13 Mar 2017 @ 1:16pm

    Standard procedure. Everything is classified and everyone is a FOIA terrorist. Amirite?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MDT (profile), 13 Mar 2017 @ 1:34pm

    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*

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2017 @ 1:40pm

      Re: Not unusual

      And yet the executive branch is still leaking like a sieve. Not everyone takes that blowhard who thinks he's the American Putin seriously.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 13 Mar 2017 @ 1:40pm

      Re: Not unusual

      I would call that attitude the epitome of micromanagement, except there is likely no actual management involved.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2017 @ 1:56pm

        Re: Re: Not unusual

        Micromanagement is always the opposite of effective management, as the micromanage is trying to do everybody else job, and so slows down processes because everybody else is waiting for their decisions.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Eldakka (profile), 14 Mar 2017 @ 1:10am

      Re: Not unusual

      I think that since the USPTO has revealed that information we can safely assume that the White House has finally gotten around to assigning the USPTO Commissar.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jason, 13 Mar 2017 @ 1:41pm

    I'm not sure how big a sigh of relief is in order, if the experience of (now former) US Attorney Preet Bharara is any indication...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    streetlight (profile), 13 Mar 2017 @ 1:51pm

    Jeff Danziger's cartoon of today says it all

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whoever, 13 Mar 2017 @ 1:53pm

    Why is it that ...

    most of the people who would like to run the patent office have no experience whatsoever of innovation, with the sole exception of innovating in new ways to subvert the intent of patent law and rulings by the Supreme Court.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2017 @ 2:00pm

      Re: Why is it that ...

      That may be because those who cannot come up with new ideas overvalue them, whether it is inventing or creating.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2017 @ 6:21pm

        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?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2017 @ 6:07pm

      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).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 13 Mar 2017 @ 1:58pm

    Easy.

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2017 @ 6:03pm

      Re: Easy.

      Hey, that's interesting. You know, David, I was just looking for your profile in my big historical pile of 14,459. Who are you again? You sound a lot like Michael Masnick.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2017 @ 8:26pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2017 @ 1:41am

          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?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2017 @ 1:54am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 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?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2017 @ 2:08am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2017 @ 2:22am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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!

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2017 @ 2:32am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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)

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 14 Mar 2017 @ 2:40pm

      Re: Easy.

      Man, this thread has more flags in it than a military parade.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Matthew Cline (profile), 13 Mar 2017 @ 11:59pm

    Someone should submit a FOIA request for documents about why no one would admit the identity of the current director.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2017 @ 2:57am

    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)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2017 @ 3:08am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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