In an incident only slightly more embarrassing than some of the more over the top displays at CES, a Chinese hoverboard-maker’s stand has been raided by US marshals over a patent dispute.
Officers confiscated vehicles from Changzhou First International Trade, a Chinese company, ahead of a court date next week. Video filmed by Bloomberg captured the moment the vehicles were confiscated.
According to details obtained by the BBC, the company claims to have developed their hoverboard in secret, not releasing details until now for fear of being copied by other Chinese firms.
Unlike most hoverboards exhibiting at CES, which have a wheel at each end, Changzhou’s model — or ‘Surfing Electric Scooters’ as they have been named — have only one central wheel. It is this design that has proved caused for dispute due to its marked similarity to the ‘Onewheel’ vehicle, designed by American firm Future Motion.
Kyle Doerksen, founder of Future Motion, told the BBC that the company have patents that cover their invention.
Two patents are involved in the case; one for the design of the vehicle, and another for the self-stabilising technology that keeps the board balanced.
It’s yet another chapter in an ongoing saga of bad hoverboard PR. Amazon pulled hoverboards from sales late last year due to fears over safety after a number of models ‘exploded’. The ubiquitous vehicles have also been banned on UK streets — although riders are now required to have a driving license and third party insurance before taking to the road, there is no way of obtaining such a license due to EU road safety standards.