"One of our top priorities is the Patent Reform Act," Leahy said last month in a speech laying out the committee's agenda. "Updating our antiquated patent system will keep America at the forefront of innovation and invention. It will help bolster our economy and protect jobs."

The bill would modernize the U.S. patent system and move it from a first-to-file system to a first-to-invent system. This change would harmonize the U.S. system with the one used by almost every other country in the world, and is aimed at reducing patent litigation costs.

"I hope the full Senate will soon have an opportunity to debate this bipartisan legislation," Grassley said Thursday.

The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill until the week of Feb. 14 at the earliest, since it will be preoccupied with the FAA bill until then. So far, the House Judiciary Committee has not begun work on a companion bill.