US International Trade Commission confirms probe into Chinese infringement of Segway patents

This week the US International Trade Commission (ITC) announced it is beginning an investigation into infringement of patents and copyrights belonging to the makers of the Segway Personal Transporter (PT).

Segway, Inc. and DEKA Research and Development Corporation own a range of key patents that underpin self-balancing personal transporters such as the Segway PT. Earlier this year the parties filed a complaint with the ITC.

Chinese manufacturers have been attempting to profit from the years of investment, effort, ingenuity, research and development by the inventors of the Segway PT by wilfully infringing patents and copyrights, and by manufacturing and selling fakes and copies that perform poorly. Many lack the full suite of redundant systems necessary to ensure safe operation required of a self-balancing transporter intended to carry a person at speed. Use of low-power motors and batteries result in machines that are unable to provide the performance needed to be useful in real-world applications. This is quickly apparent when such designs are put under any kind of sustained load (e.g. riding across cobbled surfaces, going up or down hills, enjoying traveling over rougher terrain, etc).

Companies named in the complaint include:

  • Ninebot
  • FreeGo
  • EcoBoomer
  • RobStep (Robin M1 and M2)

Companies that could be added include Airwheel (S3) and Shenzhen Xingli, because they also produce almost identical copies.

Furthermore, importers, distributors and resellers of these copies in the United States have also been named as liable parties in this complaint.

Segway, Inc.’s response to the ITC announcement suggests legal actions are likely to follow in other parts of the world as well:

“We’re pleased with the ITC’s decision to open an investigation into this matter,” said Rod Keller, President, Segway. “The Segway PT is an iconic American product that is protected by U.S. and foreign patents. We fully intend to protect it against infringement and copying.”

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