US Patent Office’s Michelle Lee shows us that patenting an invention doesn’t have to be expensive, hard

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I was lucky to speak with Michelle K. Lee, current director of the US Patent Office and a great proponent of small startups and innovation. Lee said that the patent office has a number of free resources available for entrepreneurs who may find themselves with a cool new invention but aren’t sure what to do with it.

Patenting should be proactive, said Lee. “Don’t sell yourself short,” she said.

The first step is to visit USPTO.gov to begin the process. The USPTO has a number of dedicated resources for innovators including advice on how to file “per se” patents and access to officers and lawyers.

Lee studied at MIT and Stanford and spent years in the corporate world before joining the USPTO. She understands the specific challenges facing entrepreneurs and she’s especially interest in getting more females into STEM and innovation and thinks that everyone can benefit from USPTO resources, especially those with a great idea but no idea how to protect it.

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