One of the great things about CES is that you're almost guaranteed to witness something you hadn't bargained for. Such was the case on Thursday when U.S. Marshals raided a booth exhibiting a discount electric "hoverboard."
Changzhou First International Trade Co. (CZ-First) had been having a pretty decent day according to Bloomberg. The Chinese company's hoverboard, dubbed the Trotter, had attracted the attention of passersby largely due to its unique one-wheeled design.
As it turns out, the design was a bit too unique (and familiar) to Future Motion. The startup, which rented a booth at CES in 2014 to showcase a product called the Onewheel (you guessed it, a one-wheeled scooter that's strikingly similar to the Trotter), felt the Chinese company's product was a total ripoff of his creation.
The product's inventor, Kyle Doerksen, said he learned of the Trotter when one of its users posted about it online. Doerksen's lawyer sent a letter to CZ-First in December asking them to stop selling the knockoff. It went unanswered. He also approached the company the day before CES opened its doors but didn't get anywhere.
As luck would have it, Onewheel's creator received a patent for his board's design earlier this week. Armed with it, he asked a judge on Wednesday to issue a temporary restraining order, hence the raid. Authorities confiscated all of CZ-First's merchandise and marketing material, leaving its employees clueless as to what to do next.
Doerksen told Bloomberg the raid not only eliminates what he described as an illegitimate competitor, but helps protect the reputation of the entire electric skateboard industry - one that has already been tarnished due to fire safety concerns.