The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has approved the nomination of Gary Locke as Secretary of Commerce in the Obama Administration. Locke now goes to the full Senate for confirmation. Among other duties of the Secretary of Commerce is selecting the leadership of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Many are hoping for a return to the tradition of the leader of the Patent Office being a former patent attorney, and that the next leader will work to streamline the current 2+ year process involved with getting a patent.
Gary Locke was Washington's governor from 1997-2005, and is currently a partner at the Seatle office of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale (1972) and a law degree from Boston University (1975). Locke was the first Chinese-American governor in U.S. history; during his time as governor he led eight trade missions to China and opened a Washington state trade office in Guangzhou. It will be interesting to see if he works to improve U.S.-China relations on patent policy.