Jessica M. Karmasek Dec. 11, 2014, 1:45pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - President Barack Obama’s pick to head the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Michelle K. Lee, most likely won’t be confirmed until the spring.


U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and currently the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said at the start of Lee’s hearing Wednesday that there isn’t enough time for her nomination to be confirmed before Congress adjourns for the year.


“We also know, of course, that when the new Congress is sworn in next year, this committee will have new members,” said Grassley, who is taking over as chairman of the judiciary committee in January.

“And those members should have an opportunity to participate in a hearing. And I expect that next year, those new members will have that opportunity.”


That means, most likely, Lee won’t be confirmed until March.


Obama nominated Lee to the position in October. She currently is the deputy under secretary and deputy director of the PTO, and has held the position since January.


The office has been without a permanent director since February 2013, when David Kappos resigned.


From 2012 to 2013, Lee served as director of the PTO’s Silicon Valley office, which won’t open until sometime next year.


Before that, she was the deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy at Google -- one of the most vocal critics of the current patent system -- for nine years.


Before joining Google, Lee was a partner and an associate at Fenwick & West LLP, from 1996 to 2003, and an associate at Keker & Van Nest LLP from 1994 to 1996.


She earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her law degree from Stanford.


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