Michelle K. Lee

Women in STEM
Women in STEM
Michelle K. Lee

Birth: 1965

Specialty: Engineering and Law

Major Contributions:

First woman to serve as Director of the USPTO

2015 Top 50 Most Influential Visionaries in American Public Policy by Politico Magazine

Founder and CEO of Obsidian Strategies

Image: U.S. Dept. of Commerce

During her two years as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Michelle K. Lee served as principal advisor to the President of the United States on domestic and international intellectual property policy matters.

Lee, the first woman to hold this position, was appointed in 2015. As part of her job, she provided leadership to the agency that issues patents and registered trademarks and promoted American innovation, domestically and globally, through intellectual property rights and policies.

Before attending Stanford for her law degree, she simultaneously earned BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT in 1989. While completing her education she worked as a research assistant at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory for Computer Science.

At the same she was an Engineering Extern Researcher at the Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratories working with computer networks and artificial intelligence.

Finishing her thesis on qualitative behavior and nonlinear circuits early, she took classes at Harvard Law School where she developed an interest in the practice of law. Because of its strong program in intellectual property law, she then enrolled in Stanford and was awarded her Juris Doctor in 1992.

After clerking for two different judges, she worked at two law firms in the San Francisco area concentrating on areas like patent litigation and online commerce. In 2003 she became Deputy General Counsel for Google Inc where among many responsibilities she provided leadership for Google’s patent and patent strategy efforts as well as founded and co-chaired the Legal Department Diversity Committee.

After leaving the patent office she was a visiting professor at Stanford, worked at Amazon with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning projects, and in 2022 she founded Obsidian Strategies.

In 2005 Lee was one of seven founding members of ChIPs, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to advancing women in technology, intellectual property, regulation, and policy to enable the development of cutting-edge innovation and business that are of benefit to our society. She served on its board of directors for ten years.

Written by Angela Goad


Obsidian Strategies: People

USPTO: Michelle K. Lee

LinkedIn: Michelle Lee

Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Who Is Michelle K. Lee? (AllGov)

Wikipedia: Michelle K. Lee

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