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Michelle Lee, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, resigned on Tuesday, a move that could be a potential blow to the tech industry.
Lee, who used to work at Google before joining the agency in 2012, has been praised by tech firms for her efforts to reduce abusive patent lawsuits.
Patents can be unclear and overly broad, but the agency has been working to improve the quality of patents that it issues.
Lee is also the first woman to lead the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
“Michelle has worked tirelessly to serve our stakeholders and the American public. We wish her well in her next endeavor,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
The patent office is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. A reason for Lee’s resignation and where she was headed to next wasn’t provided. There has been speculation, though, that she was being considered for the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
USPTO spokesman Paul Fucito said he had no further details to share at this time. This newspaper also reached out to Lee, but did not receive an immediate response.
She has a lot of fans, though, in Silicon Valley.
In April, numerous tech firms including Facebook, Google, Intel and Cisco sent a letter to Trump, praising Lee’s leadership.
“This is a critical time for the USPTO. Patent quality, which had unfortunately been neglected for too long, is finally being recognized as critical to the strength and success of
our patent system,” the tech firms wrote in the letter.