Hoverboard stand raided at CES 2016 after patent hoo-hah

8 Jan 2016

The Onewheel hoverboard by Future Motion which is taking legal action against the Chinese rival. Image via Future Motion

It seems no hoverboard retailer is safe from being raided by authorities, with news that one manufacturer found itself on the end of a raid by US Marshals at CES 2016 over alleged patent infringements.

Over the Christmas period, we were treated to a number of stories showing that, while popular among kids and adults, the many types of hoverboard were not quite so popular among regulators, for reasons largely relating to them being potential fiery death-traps.

Recently, Chinese company Changzhou First International Trade (CFIT) found itself in a legal battle with an American company called Future Motion over its one-wheel balancing design hoverboard, and this dispute has progressed to the point that US Marshals raided the Chinese company’s stand at CES in Las Vegas, according to the BBC.

However, in conversation with the BBC, CFIT denies any wrongdoing over its design, claiming that it had created the design a number of years ago, but ironically had only released it recently for fear of being copied by other Chinese companies.

The Chinese company displaying its similar product at CES was just too much for the American manufacturer, which claimed the alleged infringement could seriously damage its business.

Third of the price

“When we got word that a company was exhibiting a knock-off product, we engaged in the formal process, which involved sending a cease and desist letter and then getting a restraining order, which was then enforced by the US Marshals,” said the founder of Future Motion, Kyle Doerksen, in an interview.

“As a company that launched ourselves at CES two years ago, we know that the world is watching and we knew that this was a situation where they could do real damage to our business if we just allowed them to violate our patents.”

Equally worrying for Future Motion is that, given the similarities between the two, the Chinese Surfing Electric Scooter – as it’s called – costs $550 on Alibaba, which is a third of the price of the American hoverboard.

While the court system is the obvious place to take a patent dispute, you can’t help but wish that the two companies would sort this dispute with a good, old-fashioned race through the streets of Las Vegas. Oh well.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic