Mark Cuban says he and a business partner own the design of the 2-wheeled scooter – colloquially called a “hoverboard” — and he wants to annihilate all the companies “infringing on his patent“.
Apparently “The Shark” Cuban claims he partnered up with a guy by the name of Shane Chen, who got a patent in 2014 for what he called a “two-wheel, self-balancing vehicle with independently movable foot placement sections.“
Unlike the scholarly journalists at TMZ, I looked up the patent Mr. Chen claims entitles him to the rights of the current brand of hoverboard on the market. After roughly 13 seconds of review, it’s hard not to notice there is one massive difference between Mr. Chen’s patent design and the hoverboards being made by the companies Mr. Cuban is sending “cease and desist” letters to in order to stop production.
Mr. Chen’s patent is for a “two-wheel, self-balancing vehicle with independently movable foot placement sections”. Problem is, none of the current boards have “independently movable foot placement sections“.
Note in the image below, how the board rotates in the middle – that’s the independently movable foot placement sections – and how not a single board on the market in 2015 has this feature.
Why is this “feature” important? Because in USPTO Patent 8,738,278 , Mr. Chen’s patent notes that his invention is built upon previously invented machines. Furthermore, the patent acknowledges that current “two-wheel, self-balancing vehicles” are “prior art” and that his patent (#8,738,278) “overcomes the shortcomings of the prior art.”
Here’s the nitty gritty, if you want to read it: “Another group of prior art two-wheel self-balancing vehicles has two platform sections, each associated with a given wheel, that tilt from side-to-side as a user leans left or right. The two platform sections move in a linked or “dependent” manner (for example, through a parallelogram frame, and not independently) and there is a single “vertical” axis for the platforms. When the axis is tilted directly forward or backward, both wheels drive at the same speed (as required for self-balancing). If a user leans to the side (tilts the “vertical” axis sideways), then the outside wheel is driven faster than the inside wheel to effect a turn toward the direction of the tilt.“
I love Mark Cuban and know he’s a good businessman, but sending cease and desist letters to companies that are not building products infringing on patents you are “partnered up with” isn’t really good business.
Then again, IANAL, so maybe I’m completely wrong. Plus, who knows what Mr. Cuban can “invent” with his money and team of lawyers. The US Patent Office isn’t exactly known as a model of efficiency, fairness, or utility.
Can’t wait to see how this shakes out!