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 Emiel FeinsteinSenate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump Senate moderates hunt for compromise on family separation bill Texas official compares Trump family separation policy to kidnapping 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 Mason ReidAmendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP Donald Trump is delivering on his promises and voters are noticing Danny Tarkanian wins Nevada GOP congressional primary 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 Levy BoxerThe ‘bang for the buck’ theory fueling Trump’s infrastructure plan Kamala Harris endorses Gavin Newsom for California governor Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response 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.

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