Today the US International Trade Commission issued an order banning virtually all imports of hoverboards into the United States. But this time it has nothing to do with safety.
The reason for the ban involves Segway’s patent claims on self-balancing personal transport technology in the United States. Hoverboard imports, most of which are coming from China, will have to be halted almost entirely for the time being.
Previously the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned about hoverboard imports because the products have a tendency to overheat and cause massive fires. The US ITC’s decision was based solely on patent disputes.
Some of the biggest hoverboard brands currently being imported from overseas are expected to be affected by this decision, including names like Swagway and IO Hawk. Any infringing products will be seized at the border.
Segway holds over 400 patents involving technology that allows so-called hoverboards to balance. But the main one they’re hanging their hat on is 8830048, which was filed as recently as April 2013. That same patent claims priority in 1999.
The Commission says that any company wishing to temporarily import hoverboards will have to post a bond equal to the entire cost of the hoverboard until a final decision about the fate of imports is determined.
The US ITC has also issued a cease and desist order against Ecoboomer, a company that has already imported hoverboards, and is prohibiting them from selling the hoverboards that have already entered the country.
Segway’s complaint named 13 companies in particular that it felt were infringing on its patents. These companies include UPTECH, U.P. Technology, U.P. Robotics, FreeGo China, EcoBoomer and Roboscooters — all of whom export hoverboards to the United States.
There is countless litigation currently taking place amongst hoverboard manufacturers, much of which doesn’t even involve Segway and instead deals in contested IP law within mainland China.
We’ve reached out to Segway for comment on this story but had not heard back at time of writing.
Top image: Hoverboard at the 2016 CeBIT digital technology trade fair in Germany (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)