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Why Is The Federal Government Shutting Down A CES Booth Over A Patent Dispute?

from the how-is-it-their-concern dept

One of the big stories coming out of CES this week is the bizarre situation in which US Marshals showed up here at the event yesterday and completely shut down the booth of a Chinese company, named Changzhou First International Trade Co. This happened after a judge granted a motion for a temporary restraining order, filed by US company Future Motion, following a seven minute hearing about the matter, in which Changzhou was not present and had no say.

To be clear, it does appear that Changzhou is building a knockoff of Future Motion's one wheeled self-balancing scooter thing -- a device that got plenty of attention via a big Kickstarter campaign. And, Future Motion does hold both a patent on a self-balancing skateboard (US Patent 9,101,817) as well as a design patent (US D746,928), which was just granted a few days ago, on a device that obviously looks quite a lot like what both companies are selling:
In other words, there's a fair bit of evidence to support that the patent infringement case is fairly strong. That said, it still seems quite troubling for US Marshals to then get involved and completely shut down Changzhou First International Trade Co.'s booth at CES right in the middle of the show, when the company doesn't get a chance to present to the judge until January 14th, long after CES has packed up and left town.

If there's a legitimate patent infringement case here, as there may well be (even though I'll have some more to say about patents in this space in an upcoming post...), it's still troubling that the company got shut down in the middle of the trade show and that it involved the US government intervening in what is a civil issue. This is certainly not out of the ordinary in general. Part of the job of the US Marshals is to execute seizures related to restraining orders that are ordered by federal courts. But it still seems like pretty massive overkill for a company that's just showing some scooters at a trade show, and where they haven't had a chance to present a defense.

Filed Under: ces, hoverboard, onewheel, patents, retraining order, seizure, us marshals
Companies: changzhou first international trade co., future motion

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  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Jan 2016 @ 7:52pm

    IP is our most valuable asset.
    Protecting it means the rule of law doesn't apply to parties not smart enough to be waiting in every court room in the country where a competitor might file motions making claims.
    You are not entitled to defend yourself.
    You are not entitled to innocent until proven guilty, a corporation has said you are not.
    We will take all of your possessions and turn them over to your competitor & compel you to provide passwords so that they can gather evidence to support the claims before any formal legal case is filed.
    We will perp walk your property out of a large scale event, helping to destroy your reputation.
    Accusations are what are reported not the outcome of any trial that might not come to pass as we've handed your competitor all of your information and they can see how you did things and improve their product from your designs.

    All of this before you have any chance to defend yourself in a court that isn't interested in the truth, just in granting corporations wishes to have publicity for their product, shutting out a competitor, the added bonus of draining that competitors resources for an event they will not be able to participate in & making sure that any future competitors will think twice about making anything remotely like their product because all it takes is a corporation making unopposed/unverified claims to have your product seized and held until the court can find a clear day on its calendar to hear any evidence.

    IP means not having to compete, just claim you were infringed and gain control the market. The cost to you is a tiny fraction of what you stand to make.

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