The US Senate has confirmed lawyer Andrei Iancu as the next head of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Reuters reported that the Senate voted 94-0 to confirm Iancu, 49, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in August.
Silicon Valley companies including Facebook and Alphabet have urged the USPTO to review applications more carefully — arguing that in the past it has granted too many dubious patents that can lead to nuisance lawsuits.
But drug companies including Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer have urged caution in reforming the patent system.
The USPTO also issues trademark registrations.
Iancu will also oversee the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) which has the power to invalidate patents.
Iancu joins the USPTO from law firm Irell & Manella where his clients have included digital video company TiVo and gene-testing firm Ariosa Diagnostics, a division of Roche.
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, said: “We commend the Senate for confirming Andrei Iancu as USPTO Director.
“Iancu has the experience necessary to be a strong leader of the USPTO and a champion for innovators across the country.
“America’s patent system is the strongest in the world, and we expect that Iancu will work to ensure that our country continues to do all it can to reward invention and ingenuity.
“With Iancu at the helm of the USPTO, we hope that America’s innovators will benefit from an IP system that incentivizes invention, protects property, and curbs damaging abuse of patent litigation.
“All of us here at CTA are excited to work with him to help innovation continue to thrive and flourish in the United States of America.”
The appointment was also welcomed by BIO, which calls itself is “the world’s largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations.”
BIO president and CEO James Greenwood said: “I congratulate Andrei Iancu on his Senate confirmation to fill the position of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).
“The position of PTO Director is extraordinarily important, as it oversees a federal agency that is an indispensable element of the continued economic growth and innovation of American enterprise.
“Strong and reliable patents are the lifeblood of the biotechnology industry.
“They are critical in ensuring a steady stream of capital to biotechnology companies developing innovative medicines and more sustainable, bio-based energy and agricultural products.
“And they are essential to the technology transfer process that leads from inventions in the lab to products on the shelves.
“I look forward to engaging with Director Iancu and his staff as BIO continues to push for balanced reforms to curb abusive anti-patent practices, protect the ability of patent owners to defend their inventions and businesses against infringement, and promote greater predictability and certainty of patent rights as a basis for investment in innovation.”