The Senate has defeated a key amendment to patent-reform legislation, paving the way for passage of a measure that would change the way the United States recognizes patent claims.

In a 87-13 vote, the Senate tabled the measure offered by Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinDem senator seeks more time for 'due diligence' on Sessions nomination Senate sets date for hearings on Sessions's attorney general nomination Senators move to protect 'Dreamers' MORE (D-Calif.), which would have stripped language switching the nation’s patent system from a “first-to-invent” system to a “first-to-file” system.

The United States differs from the norm in having a system that protects patents by the first person to invent the thing being patented. Most of the world uses a system that recognizes the first inventor to file for patent protection.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidReid: Comey should be investigated in wake of Russia report Spokesman: NY Times ignored Reid's comments in pre-election story on Russia Senate passes dozens of bills on way out of town MORE (D-Nev.) was among the senators who voted with Feinstein.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) said Feinstein’s amendment would have gutted his legislation.

“With all due respect it would destroy all the work we tried to do in this bill,” said Leahy.

Feinstein and Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerSenate clears water bill with Flint aid, drought relief Senate Dem blocks own bill over California drought language House passes water bill with Flint aid, drought relief MORE (D-Calif.) backed a number of California companies in supporting the amendment. They have argued that changing the system to first-to-file would give an advantage to corporations with deep pockets that can afford to apply for multiple patents.

It is expensive to file an application for patents, and the California senators argue that smaller and start-up companies would not have the initial resources to protect their ideas if the United States moves to a first-to-file system.

Leahy, however, argued that the amendment was due to “some well-financed special interests that do not support [the Patent Reform Act]” that were “trying to kill it by a last minute campaign to strike these vital provisions.”

He said the provision would not give an advantage to big companies. "A vote in support of this amendment is an effectively a vote to kill the act,” he said.

Besides Reid, Feinstein and Boxer, senators voting in favor of Feinstein's amendment included Sen. Mike CrapoMike CrapoDodd-Frank ripe for reform, not repeal Ryan lights Capitol Christmas tree Ex-Im faces new problems with Trump MORE (R-Idaho), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Mark BegichMark BegichThe future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map Trump campaign left out of Alaska voter guide MORE (D-Alaska), Maria CantwellMaria CantwellSpeaker’s office: No energy bill this year Overnight Energy: Dakota pipeline standoff heats up Obama rescinds Arctic offshore drilling proposal MORE (D-Wash.) John Tester (D-Mont.), Bill NelsonBill NelsonSenate clears water bill with Flint aid, drought relief House passes water bill with Flint aid, drought relief Fight over water bill heats up in Senate MORE (R-Fla.), Ron WydenRon WydenSenate sends annual defense bill to Obama's desk Senate fight over miners' heathcare boils over Budowsky: Did Putin elect Trump? MORE (D-Ore.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerLobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner Overnight Tech: Senate panel to vote on Dem FCC commissioner MORE (D-W.Va.), Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii.).