Razor, the company behind the scooter craze in the early 2000s, is using the force of litigation to claim their share of the self-balancing scooter market. The Hovertrax 2.0., Razor’s version of the IO Hawk and Swagway style hoverboards, is the only model that can legally be sold in the US due to an exclusive licensing agreement with Californian patent holder and inventor Shane Chen. The patent for “a two-wheel, self-balancing personal vehicle” gives Razor the advantage of taking legal action against competitor companies that same way it did to defend its patent on the folding scooters in the early 2000s.
In November of last year, Razor sued Swagway, one of the foremost self-balancing scooter producers in the industry. Razor alleged that Swagway sold their products without proper patent licensing. All hoverboards, including Swagway are made in China where patent laws are often unenforced. Once they reach the States, they are sold through virtually unregulated retailers. Razor is doing everything it can to stop imitation products from encroaching on their market share. “In America, we’re the only brand [with Chen’s patent license], and we will litigate wherever possible,” said director of sales for Razor, David Kim.
When asked about Razor’s exclusive patent with Shane Chen, Bob Hadley, the research and development chief at Razor said “We’re trying to take an item and fine tune the supply chain to make it reliable.” Hadley also admitted that the company copied the already established design of the two-wheeled self-balancing scooter, but had every component choice thoroughly vetted. They ensured that their hoverboard design had protection from spontaneous combustion. “A lot of those hastily assembled ones don’t have that,” Hadley said.
The Razor Hovertrax has been on sale since Dec 2015. Razor claims they have always been and always will be perfectly safe from combustion issues due to overheating battery packs. The charger for cheap imitation hoverboards doesn’t shut down when the battery has completed charging. Razor’s charger does, so if you leave it charging at night, it won’t be any sort of fire hazard. When asked about the recently viral videos of exploding hoverboards and safety issues facing the hoverboard market, Razor CEO Carlton Calvin said “These safety concerns are not affecting us. Ours is a certified product that meets its safety requirements.”
In early July of this year, Razor recalled all 28,000 of its self-balancing scooters in compliance with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission mass recall of over 500,000 hoverboards nationally. As a result of the investigation by the CPSC, airlines and public transportation in some areas temporarily banned passengers from bringing hoverboards with them. Some shipping companies refused to ship two-wheeled electric scooters. Amazon as well as several other online retailers banned several major brands until the safety issues were resolved.UL 2272 is that resolution. The authorities at Underwriters Lab have established a certification procedure for evaluating the safety of the electrical drive train, battery, charger, and how they all work together in self-balancing scooters. In June of this year, Razor achieved UL 2272 certification. Along with Razor’s Hovertrax, the Ninebot by Segway miniPRO and several other models have also been certified. All Hovertrax 2.0 hoverboards manufactured by Razor are now certified safe for use with a UL 2272 label on the bottom. Older models have been replaced with the new UL 2272 certified model, Hovertrax 2.0.
At $450, the Razor Hovertrax 2.0 is cheaper than most other major competitors but uses a shatterproof frame and has self-balancing technology. “All the other products out there don’t self balance — you have to actually get on it and balance yourself,” said Kim, director of sales. With their UL 2272 certification, innovative additions to the hoverboard’s technology, and a hold on the patent from Shane Chen, Razor are firmly in position to take over the US hoverboard market.