| SAN FRANCISCO, March 5
SAN FRANCISCO, March 5 The U.S. Patent and
Trademark Office (USPTO) has appointed a top lawyer at AOL Inc
as its general counsel, the agency confirmed Wednesday.
Sarah Harris, AOL's deputy general counsel for intellectual
property, will fill a post that has been empty since Aug. 30,
when the former general counsel, Bernard Knight, returned to
Harris will oversee an office of 100 lawyers and paralegals
and three deputy general counsels, according to the U.S. agency.
No start date has been set for her.
"We are thrilled to welcome Sarah Harris as the USPTO's new
general counsel," said Michelle Lee, deputy director of the
USPTO and deputy undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual
Lee, a former deputy general counsel at Google Inc,
was appointed deputy director in December and holds the highest
post in the agency.
The USPTO has been without a director since David Kappos, a
former International Business Machines Corp executive, left in
February to return to private practice. Acting director Teresa
Stanek Rea left the agency in November.
"I am honored and thrilled about the opportunity to work
with Michelle Lee and the other incredibly impressive people at
the USPTO," Harris said in a statement.
Knight said the selection of Harris, as someone with
background in the software and high-tech industry, was likely to
be seen as a boost to White House efforts to thwart companies
accused of abusive patent litigation, often derisively called
Harris's experience at AOL, along with Lee's former job at
Google, reflects the administration's turn to lawyers with more
high-technology and software backgrounds in the agency's top
"The disappointing aspect of this news is that we're
building up a leadership structure in the USPTO without actually
having an appointed director in charge," said Dennis Crouch, a
patent attorney and author of the Patently O blog, which covers
U.S. patent law issues.
Crouch praised the Harris appointment, saying, "she will
bring strong pragmatic leadership in that role."
Harris oversees AOL's intellectual property policies and
strategies for managing issues, including patent litigation,
copyrights, trade secrets, defamation, publicity rights,
trademarks and domain names.