Senate takes step toward final vote on patent bill

By JIM ABRAMS | September 6, 2011 | 6:45 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has opened its fall session with a step toward passing a patent system bill that has been a rare example of bipartisanship in this year's divided Congress.

The 93-5 procedural vote on moving the bill to the Senate floor gives supporters hope that the legislation to modernize the patent system could clear Congress soon.

The Senate is considering a bill that has already passed the House by a wide margin.

The legislation, supported by President Barack Obama and a wide range of business and high tech companies, would ensure that the Patent and Trademark Office has the money it needs to reduce a huge backlog in patent applications and would put the United States on the same filing system used by the rest of the industrialized world.