Ingrid Vanderveldt sits down with Michelle Lee at SXSW in Austin, Tx to discuss her path to her role with USPTO and encourages women to go through the process to patent their products and intellectual property. Lee has become a role model for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)-related careers, while also making diversity part of the conversation about the future of U.S. technological leadership around the globe.
As the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Michelle K. Lee provides leadership and oversight to one of the largest intellectual property offices in the world, with over 12,000 employees and an annual budget of over $3 billion. Ms. Lee also serves as the principal advisor to the President, through the Secretary of Commerce, on domestic and international intellectual property policy matters. Ms. Lee is the first woman to serve as Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the country’s history.
Prior to public service, Ms. Lee has spent most of her professional career advising some of the country’s most innovative companies on technical, legal, and business matters. She was Deputy General Counsel for Google and the company’s first Head of Patents and Patent Strategy. She joined the company when it was relatively young, and was responsible for formulating and implementing its patent strategy for all of its products and services worldwide. She also served as a partner at the Silicon Valley-based law firm of Fenwick & West LLP, where she advised a wide range of high-technology clients from startups to Fortune 100 companies intellectual property, licensing, litigation and corporate matters. Before her career as a legal advisor to technology companies, Ms. Lee worked as a computer scientist at the M.I.T. Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratories.
Ms. Lee worked in the federal judiciary as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for Judge Paul R. Michel and District Court for the Northern California for Judge Vaughn R. Walker. She holds a B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering and computer science from M.I.T., as well as a J.D. from Stanford Law School.
Ms. Lee has been recognized by numerous organizations for her work including by Politico Magazine as one of the “Top 50 Most Influential Visionaries in American Public Policy” in 2015, by Washingtonian Magazine as a “Tech Titan” in 2015, and by the San Francisco Business Times and San Jose Business Journal as the Best Bay Area IP Lawyer in 2012 and one of the top 100 most influential women in the Silicon Valley in 2013.