U.S. patent review board becomes conservative target

NEW YORK(Reuters) – In August, a dozen inventors gathered around a fire pit outside the headquarters of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia, and set alight patents they said had been rendered worthless by an overreaching federal government.

“It’s time for us to make patents great again,” Michael Caputo, an advisor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, told those gathered. US Inventor, the group behind the protest Caputo now represents as a spokesman, is calling for the abolition of the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board, an administrative tribunal run by the patent office that reviews the validity of patents.

The rallying cry marks an about-face for some conservatives, who broadly supported the board’s creation in 2011 as a way to rein in trial lawyers and “patent trolls,” who hold patents for the sole purpose of suing big companies for licensing fees.

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