(Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed former Google Inc executive Michelle Lee to head the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a position that has been vacant for more than two years.
President Barack Obama's choice was approved by an unrecorded voice vote in the full Senate, just over a week after the Senate Judiciary Committee gave the nod to her nomination.
The Alexandria, Virginia-based federal agency which has more than 12,000 employees, mostly staff who determine which inventions deserve a patent, had gone without a confirmed leader since David Kappos, a former IBM Corp executive, left in February 2013.
Lee, a former deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy at Google, had been the acting director of the office. She started with the agency in 2012 as the first director of the patent office's Silicon Valley outpost.
The agency has been the focus of Congressional efforts at patent reform aimed at curbing patent litigation in federal court.
The patent office has been criticized for approving what some say are weak software related-patents that have formed the bulk of the litigation.
Another complaint has been the agency's long backlog in examining patents. In December 2011, the unexamined backlog was almost 722,000 patents. It currently stands at 602,265, according to the agency's website.
The Senate on Monday also approved Daniel Marti to be the White House's intellectual property enforcement coordinator, otherwise known as the "IP Czar."