It has now been 24 months since the USPTO has been led by a Senate confirmed director and, for the past year Michelle Lee has been in the limbo position as being de facto head of the USPTO without actually being named director or acting director. In October 2014, President Obama finally nominated Lee to take over as Director of the USPTO and Undersecretary of Commerce. Although a first confirmation hearing was held in 2014, Senators agreed to delay a confirmation vote until after the Republicans took over this term.
Acting quickly, new Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley has acted quickly to schedule a new hearing for January 21 (with Senator Cornyn scheduled to preside). Barring some unforeseen complications, I expect that Lee will be confirmed as director forthwith despite the new Republican control of the Senate. The hearing will also focus on Daniel Marti who has been nominated as the White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator — the so called IP Enforcement Czar. That role began with Victoria Espinel in 2009 and focuses primarily on international counterfeiting and copyright enforcement.
As I wrote in December: It is Time to Confirm Michelle Lee.