Patent Madness ( Holiday Hoverboard Edition )

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Oh I heard about this just today on my commute home on the NPR Planet Money podcast.
Quite interesting.

Btw, amazing podcast and definitely one of my favs.

I give no sympathy to the “inventor” of the hoverboard if he indeed infringed upon Segway’s patent for a stable two-wheel vehicle.

And yes, lawyers cost a lot of money.

Why do they call them hover boards?

These are hover boards:

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Segway’s claim is broad. I’m no lawyer, but I’d say they have a case and it would make it past discovery.

Inventists saying their invention is “small” is meaningless. And since Segway’s independent claim does not include mention of their “handlebar”, Inventist’s lack of a “handlebar” is also meaningless.

  1. A vehicle for carrying a payload including a user, the vehicle comprising:
    a. a platform which supports the user;
    b. a ground-contacting module, to which the platform is mounted, which propels the user in desired motion over an underlying surface;
    c. a motorized drive arrangement, coupled to the ground-contacting module; the drive arrangement, ground-contacting module and payload comprising a system being unstable with respect to tipping when the motorized drive is not powered; the motorized drive arrangement causing, when powered, automatically balanced operation of the system wherein the vehicle has a present velocity and a maximum operating velocity, determined by a requirement of acceleration to maintain balance and, in operation, has a balancing margin determined by the difference between the maximum operating velocity and the present velocity of the vehicle;
    d. a balancing margin monitor, coupled to the ground-contacting module, for generating a signal characterizing the balancing margin; and
    e. an alarm, coupled to the balancing margin monitor, for receiving the signal characterizing the balancing margin and for warning when the balancing margin falls below a specified limit.

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Segway could very well be trying to invalidate the Inventist patent. I have no idea. But while their claim is broad, I’d bet it can be circumvented.

As for how aggressive you are with your IP, you are correct, money matters. We recently had our lawyers in to give us patents 101. I believe they said the average to pursue someone infringing is $600K. Obviously there are high-dollar cases to raise that average, but figure your cheapest lawyer bills at $225/hour, it ain’t cheap.

And holy sweet baby jesus, there is no job as dull as patent lawyer. Personally I’d rather work on our assembly line.

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Goes to what you want IP to be.

I am for patents as it is not an unlimited monopoly, it ends in 20 years. But as any intelligent design system, it has flaws to be exploited.

I am not a fan of copyright. Too absolute. Too perpetual.

I’m guessing Segway didn’t have this in mind.

I feel there are more crap products on the market than ever before. Including this one.

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I’ll phrase it a different way, it feels like consumer products are getting polarized between luxury, well designed product and use-at-your-own-risk extremely inexpensive product that has bad design (if any) and a poor user experience.

I somewhat understand it, I buy those products all the time. If I need something but I know I won’t use it often, why not roll the dice? However, it probably is making consumer product like airlines. Only cheap-horrible and expensive-good will exist.

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