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U.S. Marshals Raid CES Booth Over Hoverboard Patents

Surfing Electric Scooter
Credit: Changzhou First International Trade Co.

United States Marshals raided a Chinese company’s hoverboard booth on Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas over allegations of patent infringement.

According to Bloomberg News, who first reported the raid, the authorities were alerted to the alleged knockoff by the maker of the OneWheel electric skateboard. Subsequently, a couple of federal marshals raided the booth of the Chinese company, Changzhou First International Trade Co., and confiscated a one-wheeled skateboard that was on display as well as some promotional materials that included a sign and fliers.

Bloomberg reports that up until the raid, the company’s day was nothing short of a success.

The board in question, a single wheeled self-stabilizing ‘hoverboard’ variant with a giant wheel in the middle, was first unveiled at CES by OneWheel back in 2014. According to the CEO and founder of the startup behind OneWheel, Future Motion’s Kyle Doerksen, he called the authorities in an attempt to not only protect consumers, but to thwart the competition, CNN Money reported.

Doerksen told CNN Money that when it comes to “knockoff products” in general, “the goal is to make them cheap” and in the process, “some of the first things they cut are often around safety and quality control.” Backing his claim, he cited the fires that have recently erupted from hoverboards, endangering the safety of users.

In general with knockoff products, the goal is to make them cheap […] To make them cheap, they cut corners, and some of the first things they cut are often around safety and quality control […] That’s why it’s very important for us as an innovator and intellectual property holder to take action

OneWheel’s patented hoverboards, which reportedly took five years to perfect once the original prototype had been crafted, sell for $1,500 a pop. Presently, the high demand products, which are manufactured in San Jose, are seeing a four-week delay on new order – which is down from the two month delay that the company and its customers were experiencing prior to the company’s recent decision to ramp things up on the production end.

A lawyer for Future Motion, Shawn Kolitch, indicated that the company had mailed Changzhou First International Trade Co. a letter notifying it of the two patents it holds in pertinence to their hoverboard creation. The written notice implores the Chinese company to voluntarily remove its products from the trade show.

On Wednesday, Doerksen filed for a temporary restraining order against the company which was granted the following morning.

Changzhou First International Trade, which refers to its own hoverboard as a “surfing electric scooter,” told the BBC that it does not believe it has broken the law while claiming that its hoverboard was developed a long time ago. The company added that this recent patent infringement claim is the first such incident that it has been involved in.

In December, Arca Space Corporation unveiled its own hoverboard, a real hoverboard that allows users to fly for six minutes at a time.

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