Major US scooter maker Razor and hoverboard maker ‘Swagway’ are the latest companies to find themselves on the receiving end of lawsuits filed by Segway, Inc and DEKA Partnership, according to Reuters.
Foolishly named Swagway is a maker of self-balancing hoverboards, and was hit by a trademark claim in January 2016. The name ‘Swagway’ bears an obvious and confusing similarity to the ‘Segway’ trademark. Did Swagway honestly think it could get away with trading under that name for long?
It gets worse for Swagway. In a big win for Segway, last month the US International Trade Commission determined that all China-built hoverboards infringe Segway patents and has banned all imports of hoverboards into USA.
For Razor, Segway’s claim of patent infringement is the next twist in a story that has already taken a series of extraordinary turns over the past few months.
Last year Razor licensed a patent relating to hoverboards from US company Inventist, who’s owner Shane Chen brought to market the first commercial hoverboard (“Hovertrax”). Chen had obtained a patent for a “Two-Wheel, Self-Balancing Vehicle With Independently Movable Foot Placement Sections.” Several months earlier Inventist had instigated legal action against another hoverboard company called IO Hawk. Inventist had also just won a patent claim in China against one of the many makers of a Solowheel copy (somewhat ironically, this win was against Ninebot – the company that would shortly afterwards go on to form a strategic combination with Segway, Inc).
Razor promptly used its license to sue Swagway for patent infringement (in early December 2015). Perhaps this was the company’s first strike towards the goal of clearing out the marketplace, in a quest to eventually dominate this rapidly emerging variant within the wider scooter segment. Razor is certainly no stranger to such action, having sued some 20 makers of knock-off children’s kick-scooters a decade earlier.
However, by then Segway had already filed claim against Inventist for infringing its patents in its Hovertrax and Solowheel products (we covered this in an earlier article).
Now, Segway has filed claim for patent infringement against Razor too, releasing a public statement to media, saying:
“In September, we filed a lawsuit against Inventist for patent infringement. This latest filing is a continuation of our commitment to vigorously protect our brand and products,” said Brian Buccella, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. “There is a tremendous amount of confusion in the market. Consumers are under the impression that the self-balancing products that have recently flooded the market and have received negative media coverage are manufactured and sold by Segway. Our brand’s renowned reputation for quality and safety must be protected.”