Michelle K. Lee is a proven leader at the highest levels in technology, law, business and government. She has spent most of her professional career advising some of the country’s most innovative companies and brought that expertise as she led America’s innovation agency.
As the former, and most recent, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Ms. Lee served as the chief executive of one of the largest intellectual property offices in the world. Ms. Lee was appointed by the President and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate. She led all aspects of a 13,000 person organization with an annual budget of over $3 billion including operations, finance, human resources, legal, governmental affairs, policy, communications, information technology (including cybersecurity preparedness) and outreach with the innovation communities around the world.
Ms. Lee was the principal advisor to the President, through the Secretary of Commerce, on domestic and international intellectual property policy matters, and is the first woman to serve as Director of the USPTO in the country’s 220+ year history.
In addition, Ms. Lee was a lead representative of the U.S. government for international intellectual property engagements. Through this work, she understands the challenges and opportunities U.S. companies face as they navigate the varied intellectual property/business landscapes in foreign markets, particularly in Asia and Europe.
Ms. Lee has deep experience advising high-growth, innovative companies with disruptive technologies and business models. Prior to joining the USPTO, Ms. Lee spent most of her career in the Silicon Valley in technology, business and law. Most recently, Ms. Lee was an executive at Google, serving as Deputy General Counsel. Among other things, Ms. Lee was responsible for formulating and implementing Google’s patent strategy for all its products and services worldwide. She helped support the company’s entry into the areas of e-commerce, mobile, driverless cars, and online collaboration and video and led some of the company’s most important intellectual property priorities working directly with the company’s executive team. Prior to Google, Ms. Lee 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 on technology licensing, intellectual property, litigation, corporate and mergers and acquisition matters.
Before building her legal career, Ms. Lee worked as a computer scientist at Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratories, as well as at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. She holds a B.S. and an M.S. in electrical engineering and computer science from M.I.T., as well as a J.D. from Stanford Law School, and wrote hergraduate thesis on artificial intelligence at the M.I.T. AI Lab.
Ms. Lee is one of the leading intellectual property experts in the world. She has been recognized by numerous organizations including by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the top 100 most influential women in the Silicon Valley, and by Politico Magazine as one of the “Top 50 Most Influential Visionaries in American Public Policy.” She is a frequent speaker to business, legal and government leaders on technology and innovation.