LAS VEGAS, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. Marshals raided a booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas allegedly offering Chinese, low-cost versions of a one-wheeled electric hoverboard.
Material at the booth of the Changzhou First International Trade Co., including their $550 Trotter, was confiscated Thursday afternoon after California-based Future Motion, makers of the patented $1,500 OneWheel obtained an emergency motion for injunctive relief.
The action on the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center stunned the audience at the annual trade show, which is accustomed to publicity stunts and bombastic rollouts of products, as well as booths operated by Chinese companies which offer low-cost products strikingly similar to more refined versions.
"Knocking off an invention that is patented and carefully quality-controlled is a disservice and unsafe to consumers." said Future Motion CEO Kyle Doerksen. "We will continue to vigorously defend our intellectual property rights around the world."
The CES show, presented by the trade group Consumer Technology Association, has welcomed manufacturers of knock-off products, although the presence of the companies has resulted in simmering resentment against low-cost competitors to the point the trade group has guidelines for on-the-floor confrontations. It asks companies to bring a maximum of two employees, one translator and one lawyer.
Thursday's raid involved federal law enforcement officials and about six people from Future Motion's legal team. The OneWheel patent prohibits competitors from making a product an observer would consider indistinguishable from the original.
"Would we have done this without the design patent being issued? The answer is we wouldn't have bothered. If you can show the design patent drawing next to an accused product side by side, and they look identical, it helps your case," said Future Motion lawyer Shawn Kolitch.
Changzhou representatives offered no comment on the incident.