Former Trump campaign consultant Michael Caputo joined at least a dozen inventors from around the country to burn patents on the north steps of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, protesting procedures from a newly formed administrative board.
"This is something the president must care about," Caputo told the Washington Examiner just after the Friday demonstration. "This is something the president's base must care about, because his base is all ‘Davids' and Washington is all Goliaths."
The inventors and their families who held signs and burned their patents outside the government offices say the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), formed in 2012 as part of the America Invents Act, is making patent infringement easier, and has created a class of political appointees who are making decisions that should be reserved for the courts.
Caputo is not currently a lobbyist for these patent holders, but says he'll be registering soon, saying that he's always felt a kindred spirit with inventors.
One of those hoping to be heard was Josh Malone of Plano, Texas. His invention which quickly fills and seals a hundred water balloons in under a minute was once featured by ABC News and NBC's "Today Show", both of which called ‘Bunch O Balloons' "genius."
Malone says he has six different patents on his kid-friendly invention, which have been useful in the courts, but says rulings by the PTAB have undercut all of the market potential of his product.
"The number one enemy of inventors is the PTAB," Malone said as he joined others in lighting one of his own patents on fire. "Now [the patent] is worthless, the infringer got off scot-free copying my invention," he added.
Malone says despite several rulings in his favor in the courts, a three-judge panel at the PTAB decided, "that no one could understand the term ‘substantially filled with water' and so they took back my patent right."
The Patent and Trademark Office had little to say about the accusations.
"The PTO welcomes the perspectives of small inventors —they are an important part of the patent system and their views need to be heard," Chris Shipp, deputy chief communications officer for the PTO said in an email statement.
Malone and others are hopeful that other cases working their way through the courts may soon provide some of the change they're hoping for.
But in the meantime, Caputo says if the president would take the time to understand the issue, he'd be making changes quickly.
Caputo says the president's fondness for one of his uncles, John Trump, is the touchstone. John Trump, the younger brother of President Trump's father, was a noted physicist and inventor.
"The president first told me about Uncle John many years ago," Caputo said. "The president likes to say he has good genes. I think when the president finds out about this [situation], he's going to get very angry."
Caputo was recently all over cable and national news outlets after he gave voluntary testimony to the House Intelligence Committee for their ongoing Russia investigation.
He's also recently registered as a lobbyist for a law firm representing victims of Hurricane Sandy who are having compensation issues with FEMA.
And after recent news that the FBI had raided the home of Paul Manafort, Caputo told the Washington Examiner he has had no contact from the Department of Justice or the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller.