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US marshals haul off one-wheeled skateboard in raid at CES

The product skated too close to patent infringement, a competitor complained.

Changzhou First International Trade allegedly makes a product that looks an awful lot like the 1-wheeled, 2-horse powered board manufactured by Future Motion, pictured above.
Photo courtesy of Future Motion

This story is part of CES 2016. Our editors bring you complete CES 2016 coverage and scour the showroom floor for the hottest new tech gadgets around.

CES is full of wild sights, but you don't often see US marshals raid a display booth.

On Thursday, gadget lovers were treated to the sight of federal law enforcement officials packing up a booth run by Changzhou First International Trade, which makes a one-wheeled skateboard called the Trotter.

The raid was prompted by an emergency motion for injunctive relief filed by California-based Future Motion, which makes a similar board that balances over a single wheel, imaginatively called the One Wheel. The raid was earlier reported by Bloomberg.

The US Marshals Service's actions highlights tension at the country's biggest consumer gadget trade show over cheap knock-offs and copy cats. The annual Las Vegas show often features bargain-basement tech that appears to closely resemble existing products, some of which are protected by patents.

The Trotter, which looks a lot like the One Wheel, can be found on Alibaba for about $550. One Wheel retails for about $1,500 on the manufacturer's website.

"Knocking off an invention that is patented and carefully quality-controlled is a disservice and unsafe to consumers." said Kyle Doerksen, CEO of Future Motion. "We will continue to vigorously defend our intellectual property rights around the world."

The marshals office in Nevada could not be reached for comment. No contact information for Changzhou First International Trade was immediately available online in English.

Newfangled skateboard technology has made the news for more explosive reasons lately, with two-wheeled electric devices called hoverboards (though they don't actually float) catching fire as their batteries charge. The US Postal Service even limited shipping for such hoverboards to trucks instead of airplanes over the holidays.