Michelle Lee, the director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, has resigned, IP Watchdog reports. It adds that she submitted a letter of resignation with apparently immediate effect.
In a note to her staff, Lee wrote that "[i]t has been a tremendous honor to serve our country for the past several years."
Lee, previously the deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy at Google and the former director of the patent office's Silicon Valley branch, was appointed to the post by former President Barack Obama in 2015. IP Watchdog writes that Lee's status at USPTO had been "murky" since the start of the Trump administration. Politico adds that the patent office announced in March that Lee would be staying on as USPTO director under President Donald Trump.
Just why she has stepped down now is unclear, IP Watchdog says. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who praised Lee during his confirmation hearing in January, was said to be interviewing replacements by March, Politico adds. IP Watchdog notes that she had sought and received support from the tech industry to encourage the Trump administration to retain her as director.
Patent Docs reports that Joseph Matal, the associate solicitor general in the patent office, will act as interim USPTO director.