Two federal Marshals appeared at the Consumer Electronics Show on Thursday and started packing a Chinese company’s one-wheeled skateboard – the Trotter – and their entire promotional product, making the company close their stand.
The Trotter was a discount electronic skateboard with a large wheel in the middle, very popular among the show’s visitors. However, a Silicon Valley startup – Future Motion complained that their patent has been violated by the Chinese company.
Future Motion said the Trotter looks almost the same as the one-wheeled electric skateboard it presented at CES a few years ago. Six people from the company’s legal team have been present along with the U.S. Marshals at the raid.
The Trotter’s representatives refused to comment on the incident saying that they need to consult their lawyers.
Future Motion presented their Onewheel skateboard at CES 2014. Onewheel has been created by designer Kyle Doerksen, known for working on electric bicycles before quitting his previous job and starting Future Motion. Dorksen raised $630,000 on Kickstarter to develop Onewheel and received a patent for the technology last August.
According to the patent no other company is allowed to develop similar products that could be confused with Onewheel.
The U.S. Company found out about the Trotter, produced by the Changzhou First Trade International in 2015 when somebody posted about it on one of Onewheel’s forums.
First Trade sells its products to retailers on Alibaba for only $500 apiece. That it about three times less than Onewheel which is being sold by Future Motion for $1,500 apiece on their website. Alibaba’s listings show that the Chinese company has sold over $70,000 worth of products to retailers in Europe but also in the United States.
First Motion’s main lawyer, Shawn Kolitch sent a letter to the Chinese company in December, informing them about the patent infringement and demanding them to remove their online listings but he hasn’t received any answer. The day before CES started Kolitch approached the Chinese stand and has spoken directly to the staff but he got nowhere. This is what led to the final step of getting a court order which demanded the Company to stop displaying the Trotters on CES’s show floor.
Doerksen says that preventing the Chinese company to sell the Trotter was not only about shutting down competition but it was also a precaution after many low-quality hoverboards have already started to ruin the electric skateboards’ reputation by bursting into flames.
Image source: kickstarter