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 FeinsteinFive things to know about the elephant trophies controversy The feds need to be held accountable for role in Russia scandal Lawyer: Kushner is 'the hero' in campaign emails regarding Russia 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 ReidVirginia was a wave election, but without real change, the tide will turn again Top Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots Boehner confronted Reid after criticism from Senate floor 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 BoxerBarbara Boxer recounts harassment on Capitol Hill: ‘The entire audience started laughing’ 100 years of the Blue Slip courtesy Four more lawmakers say they’ve been sexually harassed by colleagues in Congress 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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