Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday requested and received unanimous consent on a motion to proceed on a bill to reform the U.S. patent system.

First, however, Reid agreed to allow conservative Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to explain an amendment he hopes to offer that would express "no confidence" in Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner.

The Patent Reform legislation now pending before the upper chamber — also called the America Invents Act, H.R. 1249 — would change the U.S. from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file patent system, a move proponents say would bring the U.S. patent system closer to systems already used by most of the rest of the world.