Invalidating a patent

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A former Google executive who advocated strongly for women and minorities, Lee took the helm of the patent office at a crucial time for the technology industry.

Tech companies were awash in frivolous lawsuits, many involving software patents, filed by "patent trolls" — companies that control intellectual property but derive much of their income from legal action rather than the manufacture of goods.

The reason for this is that if the prior-art publication or patent has an effective date more than one year prior to the filing date of the patent in question, the patent owner is precluded from proving invention earlier than the prior art.

If, however, the publication and patent-issue date is within one year of the filing date, the patentee has an opportunity to prove that his or her invention was created prior to the effective date of the reference, thereby eliminating the reference.

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Failure to comply with either of these disclosure requirements can result in the patent being invalid.

America's top patent and trademark official has abruptly resigned from her post. “I am confident that the leadership team in place will serve you well during this transition,” Lee wrote in an agencywide memo that was obtained by The Washington Post.

Patent and Trademark Office for more than two years, submitted a letter of resignation Tuesday afternoon.

A spokesman for the agency confirmed the resignation but declined to comment further.

Lee was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed to the role in March 2015.

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