Patent Office head to keep spot in Trump administration

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U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee will remain as the agency’s head into the Trump administration despite speculation that she would step down or be replaced.

Lee will announce as soon as today that she’ll be kept on by the new administration, a source told The Hill. A second source said that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told tech industry officials Lee will stay on in the role. Other publications have also reported that Lee will remain.

{mosads}Lee staying on is considered a win for internet companies like Google — where Lee previously worked — that have fought for patent reform during the Obama administration.

Companies and organizations opposed to patent reform like Qualcomm and the Innovation Alliance had hoped that Trump would be more favorable to their positions, but Lee remaining as USPTO’s director likely won’t help their interests.

A spokesperson from the agency declined to comment. The Trump Transition team was not immediately available to comment.

The President Obama appointee to the Patent Office had spurred rumors that she might have been pushing to keep her job after she didn’t deny the possibility of staying at the USPTO after the administration transition. Issa later said that he supported Lee staying on.

During the Obama administration, Lee pushed for patent reform and targeted “patent trolls”  companies that acquire patents to profit through litigation instead of producing products.

Lee attended Stanford Law School at the same time as Trump’s biggest tech supporter and adviser, Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel.  

Updated at 12:58 p.m.

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