US Marshals Raid CES Booth Over One-Wheeled Hoverboard
United States Marshals raided a booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Thursday, confiscating several one-wheeled electric scooters made by a company that has been accused of patent infringement, according to a new report.
Ars Technica reports that two U.S. Marshals raided and dismantled a booth operated by an apparently China-based operation called Changzhou First International Trade Co., after an American company, Future Motion, filed a complaint over Changzhou’s one-wheeled scooters with a federal court in Las Vegas. According to Ars, the court held a short hearing by phone on the matter, before issuing an emergency court order that led to the raid.
US District Judge Miranda Du issued a restraining order, seizure order, and temporary injunction after deciding that Future Motion is likely to succeed in showing that Changzhou has infringed on its patents. Future Motion had argued that its business would be irreparably harmed by the attention that Changzhou’s scooters were receiving as CES, the largest consumer electronics show of the year. An additional hearing on the matter is scheduled for later this month, and Changzhou will have the opportunity to defend itself.
The raid is a rather bizarre punctuation to the rapid and increasingly controversial rise of so-called hoverboards. In recent months, the market has been flooded with two-wheeled electronic scooters that you stand on and move simply by shifting your weight. Knockoffs of this basic idea are rampant, with many originating in China, and according to reports, at least 10 hoverboards have caught fire across none different U.S. states.
In December, Amazon removed these scooters from its site and major airlines have banned the hoverboards from flights.
Future Motion’s Onewheeel scooter is a little different. It has only one wheel. But the idea is similar. The company first introduced it at CES two years ago and now sells the product online for $1,499. According to Ars, Changzhou was selling its scooter—which also has one wheel—through Chinese etailer Alibaba for about a third of the price.