But proponents of the bill say the prohibitive costs of legal teams often needed to prove an individual or company invented an idea first also hurts small companies and inventors.
Feinstein also worried the first-to-file system would clog the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by throwing inventors into a great race to file patents, whether they were ready or not.
“First-to-file incentivizes inventors to race to the patent office so they aren’t beat to the punch by a rival,” said Feinstein. “Thus first-to-file will likely result in overfiling of dead-end inventions.”
The Patent Office has a backlog of about 750,000 patents. It takes about 26 months before most patent applications are even read for the first time by a patent officer.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) also expressed her dislike for the first-to-file provision in the Patent Reform Act.
The Patent Reform Act is currently pending on the Senate floor.
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), the floor manager, indicated on Monday the Senate could finish the bill by Wednesday. So far, no end of debate is in sight.