Former Google lawyer Michelle Lee now head of new Silicon Valley Patent Office

November 19, 2012
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Image Credit: Dan Farber

Michelle Lee, once Google’s Head of Patents and Patent Strategy, is now in charge of the United States Patent Office Silicon Valley Branch. David Kappos, the director of the Patent and Trademark Office, told Reuters that Lee “understands the critical importance patents and trademarks play in our global economy”, which is a statement that be interpreted multiple ways. Some of you think that software patents should be banned, and that the only way for this industry to move forward is for companies to stop stockpiling thousands upon thousands of patents that they use like a pair of brass knuckles in case someone tries to compete. Other folks think patents have their place, but the way the system is currently setup is just laugh out loud broken and needs a total overhaul.

None of us are lawyers, so we can’t give you an educated opinion either way. That being said, we are consumers, and we hate reading about products being banned from entering certain markets because they have one or two features that exist in iOS. That’s just bullshit. No one is doubting that the first Android phones were painfully similar to the iPhone, but this is no longer the case. Google was “inspired” by iOS in much the same way Apple was “inspired” by XEROX Parc.

Today, Android looks absolutely nothing like iOS, meanwhile iOS looks exactly like it did in 2007. Oh yea, there’s a new notification center, but guess where they got that idea?

Circling back to the main topic of discussion, can Michelle Lee fix things? We certainly hope so. She knows what’s wrong with the patent system. Back in March 2009 she wrote a blog post titled “Patent reform needed more than ever“. Maybe now that she’s in a position of power, she’ll actually be able to do something about it!

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