When the USPTO unveiled the locations of its first four branch offices, it was no surprise to see that Silicon Valley had been circled on the map. Although it is still months away from opening, the San Jose site recently reached an important milestone as Michelle Lee, former head of patent strategy at Google, was named branch office director.
Lee left her post at Google in May, but was often a vocal critic of the patent system during her time with the company. According to CNET, she felt that the current USPTO framework was too "welcoming" to frivolous lawsuits and similar brands of exploitation.
Her public sector transition may have begun in April 2011, when she served on an advertising industry advisory board to the USPTO. However, her new role will certainly afford Lee the ability to take a more proactive role in reforming the system she formerly found fault with.
Lee has a strong technical pedigree, according to Ars Technica, originally pursuing a PhD in computer science prior to studying intellectual property law. The professional relationships she has developed in the software community could also help inspire more frequent and candid discussions across sectors.