Last week, Michelle Lee sent at e-mail to United States Patent and Trademark (USPTO) employees announcing her resignation as Director. The reasons for both her resignation and its timing are unclear. Joseph Matal, a USPTO associate solicitor, was named as Interim Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross one day after Lee's abrupt resignation. Prior to his role at the USPTO, Matal played a key role in crafting the 2011 America Invents Act (AIA) and other patent legislation.
Matal's appointment will do little to ease the concerns of Lee's critics who saw her as anti-patent and an ally of Silicon Valley interests that seek to weaken patent rights. The AIA was heavily influenced by Silicon Valley companies that are often the target of patent infringement lawsuits.