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), 10 Jan 2016 @ 3:08pm

    Re: does this include the uk england

    Does the patents include the uk (if it was sold in the uk could i expect a law suit from one wheel)?

    The fact that question even needs to be asked is annoying. Can't anything be done these days without getting lawyers involved? Maybe we should all be hounding our politicians into writing laws in clear language anyone can understand without learning a dead language (Latin) and spending years earning a law degree.

    Unfortunately, to answer your question you probably need to talk to a lawyer. There are numerous types of patents. Some are just domestic, some are international, and it could hinge on whether treaties are in place between the two gov'ts to honour each others' laws.

    Remember also that whether to expect a lawsuit has nothing to do with being on the right or wrong side of the law. Money, or lack thereof, controls the situation. You may have the law on your side but if you can't afford to prove it in court, you lose.

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