Dec 17, 2015

Back to the Past - More Negative Press for Hoverboards

The news that the Metropolitan Police are searching for a man caught on CCTV stealing a case of Lucozade from a supermarket in south London whilst riding a 'hoverboard' (otherwise a self balancing scooter) is yet more negative publicity for the fledgling invention. The story draws further attention to the fact that hoverboards can only be used legally on private land and then only with the landowners permission.

Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835 confirms that as a powered vehicle, a hoverboard cannot legally be ridden on the pavement. Likewise hoverboards do not meet the necessary requirements to be registered as a road legal vehicle, meaning that private land is the only place where the hoverboard can legally be used.

Though hoverboards are not illegal and it is not the responsibility of a seller of the product to enquire as to what use they will be put to, any seller or supplier needs to be very careful as to how they advertise the product. Any reference to their use in a public place on advertising or promotional material could be problematic.

It is clear that any businesses selling or supplying hoverboards needs to be aware of the laws in place that restrict their use.

However, the issues highlighted above are not the only legal issues that arise in relation to hoverboards. There is also the potential for very real issues to arise around intellectual property rights.

A US company by the name of Hovertrax owns the patent for a two wheeled, self balancing personal vehicle, and has already commenced litigation in America for infringement of this patent. There are now numerous brands in the marketplace that make cosmetic alterations to the base unit (which tends to be imported from China). Any current or potential future supplier or seller of hoverboards needs to be aware therefore of the potential infringements of intellectual property and that they may be implicated in any such infringement. There is a risk of infringement of a patent or Trade Marks that may have been registered by other brands in the marketplace. Companies may also have design rights over aspects of the hoverboards they offer for sale.

If you are thinking of entering the lucrative and growing market around hoverboards but are worried about the intellectual property issues that may surround such a move please contact the team of IP experts at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or who will be happy to help you navigate this.

in: Digital/Tech, News, Patents

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