Senate panel approves Obama's patent nominee

Senate panel approves Obama's patent nominee
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The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved President Obama's nominee to lead the U.S. Patent Office, which has not had a confirmed leader for more than two years. 

Michelle Lee, the current acting director, was approved by voice vote as part of a larger slate of nominees. It is unclear when the full Senate will take up the nomination. 

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The approval of Lee was dwarfed by the high-profile nomination vote to approve Obama's attorney general pick, Loretta Lynch. 

Lee had testified twice before the committee in the last couple of months, where she garnered support from both sides. During her testimony, she expressed support for legislation to rein in so-called patent trolls but has been vague on what specifics the administration would support. 

She has also since announced a number of initiatives in the office to improve the quality of patents approved on the front end, which developers also blame for the number of abusive lawsuits in recent years. 

Lee, a former lawyer and patent head for Google, currently serves as deputy director for the patent office, but with the responsibilities of director.

Earlier this month, the committee approved Daniel Henry Marti, Obama's nominee to be the coordinator of intellectual property enforcement. The position has been open since August 2013.