When another frustrated customer, Rich O’Neill of Montana, emailed around the same time and wanted his $1,300 returned, Mr. Cooper fired back a threatening email.
“You’re telling me that if I don’t refund your $1,300, you will blackmail me into filing complaints with regulators? And you just put it in writing,” Mr. Cooper wrote. “You are aware that we have a former U.S. attorney on our board.”
Mr. Cooper returned the money to Mr. O’Neill, who said in an interview on Thursday that he believed the email referencing Mr. Whitaker was meant to intimidate him.
The complaint also accused the company of using thuggish tactics, according to court documents. In an email to customers, the company referenced a blog post that described how one person wanted to speak with Mr. Cooper about his invention idea. The post said that the person was intercepted by the company’s “intimidating security team, all ex-Israeli special ops and trained in Krav Maga, one of the most deadly of the martial arts.”
The post added, “The World Patent Marketing Security Team are the kind of guys who are trained to knock out first and ask questions later.”
Another customer, Brenda Wilcox, 49, a Trump supporter who lives in Broward County, Fla., said in an interview on Thursday that World Patent Marketing scammed $11,000 from her. She said the company had agreed to market, license and develop a bracelet she invented that would warn drivers if they left a baby in the back seat of their car.
Another customer, William Knecht of Texas, lost about $35,000 on a patent package, according to the complaint. “The entire time I worked with W.P.M. I feel like the company cut corners, did the bare minimum to get by, and were just slimy enough to keep me happy and not complaining,” Mr. Knecht said in a 2017 statement as part of the trade commission’s case.