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Federal marshals raid booth at CES

Posted at 5:59 AM, Jan 08, 2016

A discount electronic skateboard dealer from China may be in big trouble after their booth was raided by U.S. federal marshals on Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

According to Bloomberg, the raid was the result of an effort by a Silicon Valley startup named Future Motion who claim they invented and patented a self-balancing electric skateboard that features only one wheel in the center of the board instead of wheels on each end.

The skateboard in the booth for Changzhou First International Trade also only had one wheel in the middle and looks "strikingly similar" to the one produced by Future Motion.

Approximately six people from the legal team for Future Motion were with the marshals when they conducted the raid on the show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The Chinese company has declined to comment. The marshals packed up the skateboards, along with a sign and fliers promoting the product.

CES is the world's largest electronic show. Many companies from other countries exhibit at the show and their products often look quite similar to those belonging to more well-known companies. This often results in resentment from companies who feel their patents and trademarks are being violated by low-cost competitors.

Bloomberg says that CES' legal department issues guidelines for those who feel wronged, and there's even a list of rules for face-to-face disputes. 

The electronic skateboard by Future Motion is called "Onewheel" and is the brainchild of designer Kyle Doerksen. Future Motion first learned of the skateboard in question named "The Trotter" in an online forum. A letter was sent to the Chinese company in December. When no response was received, Future Motion filed a request with a judge to stop the Chinese company from displaying the Trotters at CES.

According to Gizmodo, the Onewheel by Future Motion is being marketed to retailers for $1,500 each. The Trotter boards are being sold for $500.

The Consumer Technology Association, the producer and owner of CES, says the organization "supports intellectual property rights and the rule of law."