On Monday, the US Senate confirmed that former executive of Google Inc., Michelle Lee would be heading the US Patent Office and the Trademark Office. This particular position had been vacant for the past two years and is being filled now. An unrecorded voice note approved the choice of President Barrack Obama in the full Senate. This decision came only a week after the nod had been given by the Senate Judiciary Committee for her nomination. There are about 12,000 employees working at the Virginia-based federal agency called The Alexandria whose primary role is to determine the inventions that do deserve a patent.
Since February 2013, there had been no leader to head the agency after a former IBM Corp executive, David Kappos left his position. The post of the active director of the office had been held by Lee, who had previously been head of patents and patent strategy for the search engine giant and is also a former deputy general counsel. It was in 2012 that she started working with the agency at the post of the patent’s office first director of the Silicon Valley outpost. Congressional efforts have been quite focused on the agency because of patent reforms as they wish to reduce patent litigation at federal court as much as possible.
Some criticism has been directed towards the patent office as some are of the opinion that patents related to weak-software had been given approval, which is the primary reason behind most of the litigation. The agency’s 29-year-old veteran, Robert Stoll, who was also the agency’s commissioner of patents from 2009 to 2011, said that the primary job of Lee would be to improve the quality of patents that are approved by the agency. Now working as a partner at Drinker, Biddle and Reath, a law firm in Washington, Stoll said that the patent troll problem can be resolved when better quality patents are given approval.
He used the term that’s used by some for referring to companies that don’t make products, but only derive profits from filing lawsuits. The long backlog of the agency in examining patents has also been a major complaint of companies. There were about 72,000 patents that made up the unexamined backlog in December 2011. The website of the agency shows that this backlog is 602, 265 right now. This is another task that Lee will have to handle at her new position.
In other news, Google Inc. has rolled out the awaited Android 5.1 Lollipop update, which will improve performance and stability and also provide support for some new features such as high-definition (HD) voice, device protection and multiple SIM cards. With the Device Protection feature, individuals can lock a stolen or lost device, which can only be unlocked when the actual owner signs in with their own Google account. This feature will be available on most Android tablets and phones based on Android 5.1 along with the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9. There are also some enhancements made in quick settings.