Will 2016 Be the Year of Hoverboard Lawsuits?

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on December 31, 2015 2:59 PM

Hoverboards were 2015's Cabbage Patch Doll or Tickle-Me Elmo -- that is, the gift to get this holiday season. The self-balancing platforms on wheels (think Segway's, but without anything to hold on to) are everyone's favorite new toy. That is, when they're not dropping you on your back or bursting into flames.

And now, lawyers want in on the fun too. Here's why the New Year may be the year of hoverboard liability.

Take Your Hoverboard to Court

Hoverboards' most obvious flaw is simply it's misleading marketing. These are not the flying skateboards you were promised in the late-80's. They don't even hover. They roll. But lawyers aren't going after hoverboards for false advertising just yet.

Instead, most litigation is focused on the product's dangerous nature, for it's incredibly easy to fall from a hoverboard.

And when users aren't tumbling from them, hoverboards have been known to spontaneously burst into flames.

Hoverboards are illegal in New York (for the moment) and England (since 1835, apparently), in part because they're dangerous and in part because they're very annoying on crowded sidewalks.

Already, there are at least two lawsuits over hoverboards, according to CNN Money. In one, an Alabama couple is suing a mall kiosk that sold them a hoverboard which caused a fire in their home. In the other, a New York father is pursuing a class action suit against Modell's sporting goods store after a hoverboard he purchased there caught his children on fire.

Both of those suits focus on the danger hoverboards themselves pose, but we're sure suits over rider liability are just around the corner as well.

It's Not Just the Immolated Youths

Despite all the flaming and falling, the hoverboard market is lucrative. (The things retail between $200 and $400 a piece.) That's lead to some major legal fights for control over the market. Razor, the company that popularized those awful mini scooters in the early 2000's, has picked up the patent for hoverboards and is currently suing one of the biggest hoverboard companies, Swagway.

Razor isn't the only company going after Swagway, either. Segway is taking them to court as well, for -- you guessed it -- trademark violations.

With all the hoverboard-inspired litigation, it's seeming like the hoverboard might be the gift that keeps on giving for lawyers in 2016.

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