The Commerce Department has tapped Joseph Matal, an associate solicitor at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, to succeed Michelle Lee as interim director of the intellectual property agency, according to the USPTO.
Matal's appointment comes one day after Lee abruptly resigned from her position. As a temporary replacement, Matal does not need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Matal has served at the patent office for nearly five years, representing the agency in federal court. Before coming to the USPTO, Matal played key roles on Capitol Hill crafting patent-related legislation, including the America Invents Act, which became law in 2011.
Matal's swift selection by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross could soothe questions among industry groups about the immediate future of the patent office. But it does not resolve the longer-term issue for President Trump of filling key administration posts, a backlog that grew larger with Lee's resignation Tuesday.