U.S. federal marshals took to the CES showroom floor on Thursday afternoon to seize and remove "hoverboards" on display by the Chinese company Changzhou First International Trade Co. Bloomberg reports staffers at the booth looked on in shock as the two officials packed up the devices, plus accompanying promotional signs and fliers.
The product looks like an electric unicycle-type device, similar to a seesaw in appearance, and bears remarkable resemblance to a device by Future Motion, named the 'Onewheel'. The Onewheel is a result of a Kickstarter project started two years ago and was displayed last year at CES 2015.
Several years ago, Future Motion founder Kyle Doerksen began the patent process on the technology behind Onewheel. The company was first awarded a patent in August 2015, followed by another this week. The patent protects Future Motion against competitors making products that an ordinary observer may confuse with Onewheel. Following a court order prompted by the company, two U.S. marshals along with six members of Future Motion's legal team took part in the raid.
CES organizers, additionally, operate their own internal dispute process between companies, where there is a claim a product has been ripped-off. However two key restrictions on companies using this process may be the reason Future Motion instead chose legal action: (1) booth vendors are not required to demonstrate their product is original; and (2) where there is a dispute, vendors are requested by CES organizers to bring no more than two employees, one translator, and a lawyer to negotiate.
Future Motion had previously demanded Changzhou First International Trade cease trading the Trotter device on at least two occasions without response.