U.S. Marshals Raid CES Booth To Seize Alleged Knockoff Scooters

On the left is the alleged knockoff from Changzhou, which currently sells for $550 on Alibaba, about 1/3 the price of the $1,499 Future Motion Onewheel on the right.

On the left is the alleged knockoff from Changzhou, which currently sells for $550 on Alibaba, about 1/3 the price of the $1,499 Future Motion Onewheel on the right.

We’ve seen lots of odd things at CES International over the years — live kangaroos, stormtroopers, boxing matches, Seth Rogen — but one thing we’ve never seen before is U.S. marshals seizing knockoff products for alleged patent infringement.

According to Ars Technica, that’s what happened yesterday to a Chinese manufacturer accused by a California-based startup of ripping off their design for a one-wheel scooter.

Future Motion, the U.S. company, filed a patent infringement complaint [PDF] in federal court on Tuesday against Changzhou First International Trade Co.

Future Motion’s Onewheel scooter, whose development was bolstered by a successful $630,000 Kickstarter campaign, is a self-balancing, one-wheeled (as the name implies) device that currently sells for $1,499. Future Motion has patents related to the device’s design and tech that don’t expire for at least another 14 to 20 years.

The company’s lawsuit alleges that Changzhou blatantly violated those patents, selling a knockoff product on Alibaba — and even bringing it to CES — for significantly less money.

“Defendant Changzhou is making, using, offering for sale, selling, and/or importing a self-balancing electric vehicle under the name ‘Surfing Electric Scooter’ that appears to copy the ONEWHEEL® design,” reads the complaint.

According to Ars, after filing the lawsuit, Future Motion was granted a telephone hearing with a U.S. District Court judge who then granted an emergency motion authorizing the marshals to shut down the booth, halt any sales, and seize relevant Changzhou products. In the end, the marshals grabbed about a half-dozen of the alleged knockoffs from the booth.

A lawyer for Future Motion tells Ars that, following an in-person hearing before the court, the judge could decide that Changzhou is not obviously infringing on the patents and return the seized products, but, adds the lawyer, “I feel confident that would not happen.”