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Segway bought by Chinese rival Ninebot

The acquisition follows an accusation of patent infringement against the Chinese company.

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Actor Kevin James races NASCAR stock cars on a Segway at Fort Worth's Texas Motor Speedway in 2009 to promote the movie "Paul Blart: Mall Cop". Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Segway has been bought by a Chinese rival. Beijing-based Ninebot, established in 2012, announced Wednesday that it has bought Segway, having previously been accused of patent infringement by the US company.

The electric, two-wheeled, self-balancing Segway personal transporter was introduced in 2001. Developed by Dean Kamen, the Segway employs gyroscopic sensors to stay upright at speeds of up to 12.5 miles per hour. It's illegal to ride them on public pavements in the UK, but most states in the US allow them.

Famous people to have come a cropper while riding Segways include President George W Bush and television personality Piers Morgan, who broke three ribs falling off one. More successful Segwayers include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who is a member of Segway polo team the Silicon Valley Aftershocks, and heroic cameraman Karsten Jacobsen who combined Segway and steadicam for this spectacular flying shot of the 2009 Eurovision song contest:

On Christmas Day 2009, British entrepreneur Jimi Heselden bought Segway, but was killed nine months later while apparently riding one near cliffs in the UK.

The company was bought in 2013 by Summit Strategic Investments.

Last year, Ninebot was among a number of manufacturers and distributors making and selling personal transporters accused by Segway of infringing the company's patents.

The acquisition of Segway is backed to the tune of $80 million by Chinese company Xiaomi, the world's third largest smartphone manufacturer, and Californian venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.