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
    tqk (profile), 9 Jan 2016 @ 8:04pm

    Re: To protect US companies

    Because the current US intellectual property system is protectionist.

    The USA has always put on a big show about how free enterprise capitalistic the USA is, but it's never been true. They've a bad, bad, case of multiple personality disorder. Republicans, Democrats, Northerners, Southerners, Conservatives, Progressives, secular, nonsecular, ... It's just marketing BS. Think softwood lumber, or how many miles is their off-shore fishing boundary? I'm Canadian. One of our prime ministers likened it to sleeping with an elephant.

    It took them a while to get around the Constitution (they were busy living and raising families, I guess), but they finally invented the IRS and the CIA, and from that point on they were on a roll, just yet another entitled rich guy's empire on its inevitable path to implosion.

    At least we got some seriously cool tech out of the process, and some way entertaining mass media. Too bad their attempt at that democracy thing was so poorly executed. Damn, they suck at that stuff.

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