Senate rejects challenge to patent legislation

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 05, 2011 18:00 hrs

The Senate has rejected a challenge to the key component of legislation to overhaul the patent system, paving the way for passage in the coming days.

Senators voted 87-13 against an amendment by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein that would have retained the current "first-to-invent" system for filing patents. The legislation switches the country to a "first-inventor-to-file" system that is used by all other industrialized nations.

Supporters of the change say it will reduce expensive legal battles, improve fairness and support innovators seeking to market their products abroad. They said Feinstein's amendment would have effectively killed the first major overhaul of patent law in six decades.

Feinstein and her allies argued that the change will lead to a race to the patent office and will disadvantage independent and small-scale inventors.