Patent-reform amendment backed by California senators defeated

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 FeinsteinHotel lobby cheers scrutiny on Airbnb GOP platform attempts middle ground on encryption debate Week ahead: Encryption fight poised to heat up 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 ReidDem ad blasts Indiana senate candidate on Social Security Super-PAC targets Portman on trade Dem leader urges compromise on FCC set-top box plan 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 BoxerDem suggests race factored into Obama Senate endorsement Obama, Biden back Kamala Harris in Calif. Senate race Tim Scott says he was targeted by Capitol Police 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 CrapoGOP warming up to Cuba travel Ann Coulter: VP pick is Trump's first mistake Overnight Finance: Freedom Caucus moves to impeach IRS chief | Calls for US-UK trade talks | Clinton ally offers trade for Trump tax returns MORE (R-Idaho), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Mark BegichMark BegichSenate GOP deeply concerned over Trump effect Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Unable to ban Internet gambling, lawmakers try for moratorium MORE (D-Alaska), Maria CantwellMaria CantwellRemembering small business during the presidential election GOP energy negotiator accuses Senate chairman of 'bizarre' promise House chairman: Energy bill unlikely before election MORE (D-Wash.) John Tester (D-Mont.), Bill NelsonBill NelsonMore automakers admit to equipping new cars with defective airbags GOP warming up to Cuba travel How the new aviation law will affect your travel MORE (R-Fla.), Ron WydenRon WydenDems push for US, EU cooperation on China's market status Senate Dems push Obama for more Iran transparency Watchdog faults Energy Department over whistleblower retaliation 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.).

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