Hoverboards banned again...this time not for fires

A federal agency bans the import of several products that infringe on patents belonging to Segway, maker of the original two-wheeled electric vehicle.

The self-balancing scooters already have a fiery reputation.


Screenshot by Sean Hollister/CNET

Hoverboards are facing another ban, but this time it's not because they're known to burst into flames.

The US International Trade Commission has issued a ban on the import of "certain personal transporters" that infringe on Segway patents related to self-balancing technology, the federal agency said Wednesday. This means any hoverboard or similar smart-balancing device using tech covered in Segway's patents won't be allowed into the country for sale.

Segway, known for its iconic two-wheeled electric vehicle, on Tuesday tweeted out a brief statement about the orders. The company did not respond to a request for additional comment.

"The General Exclusion Order is particularly significant because it blocks importation of all products from all sources that infringe a broad patent covering Segway's [personal transporters]," the company said in its statement.

Many of the companies that make hoverboards, which were a hot item before reports emerged that they could catch fire, are based in China and other foreign countries. The ITC named 13 companies in its investigation, including PowerUnion, Robstep, Inmotion, FreeGo China, Uptech, U.P. Robotics and U.P. Technology.

In February, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission found all hoverboards unsafe, saying they pose an "unreasonable risk of fire." Soon after, Amazon, Toys "R" Us, Target and other retailers pulled the products from their stores.

The federal watchdog said hoverboards will need to meet safety standards that cover everything from a board's battery to labeling before they can be deemed safe again. So far, not a single hoverboard has been able to pass muster.

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