More than one year after launching a Kickstarter for a stylish, high-end hoverboard called Moov, Mark Cuban-backed Radical Transport has disbanded, refunds have been issued to backers, and the product is indefinitely shelved.
The reason? “Patent issues,” Cuban toldThe Vergein an email. “Everyone wanted to sue everyone. I just didn’t think it was worth it.” The billionaire CEO declined to specify who he meant by “everyone,” but the fight over hoverboard patents is not new, and it revolves around just a few players.
Chen used this innovation to make and sell a hoverboard called Hovertrax. When a wave of hoverboard knockoffs from China started to flood the market in the United States in 2015, Chen used his patent to keep as many competitors at bay as possible. It wasn’t enough to keep all of them back, but it was a strong enough foothold that toy company Razor eventually decided to buy the rights to the Hovertrax. The company then took up the bulk of Chen’s legal battles.
Razor didn’t get the rights to the patent easily, though. Cuban tried to strike a deal with Chen in 2015 when hoverboards were still hot (though notexplosivelyhot — yet), but eventually relented because of the swelling legal drama. He toldBuzzFeedat the time he’d decided instead to create a new hoverboard that “respects necessary IP and introduces our own.”
Two years after making that promise, a small company called Radical Transport — backed by Cuban — came out of stealth promising an evolved take on the idea of a hoverboard thatdidn’ttwist in the middle. Instead, it used sensors to measure the flex in the board and translated those inputs into movement.
The board also featured bigger wheels, a wider base, premium materials, and a cut-out handle for carrying it around. It was supposed to have swappable decks with different styles and colors, and a smart, fully-featured mobile app, too. Where other hoverboard companies had pushed to drive down the price, sometimes by sacrificing safety, Radical Transport decided to go high-end — a strategy that was reflected in the $1,300 price tag.
Radical Transport launched the Moov, as it was called, on Kickstarter last summer. The company, which consisted of just three people, raised $75,038 and promised the Moov would ship by the 2017 holiday season. (Asked last year why he chose to use Kickstarter, Cuban responded: “Why not?”) On August 22nd, Radical Transport announced it had struck a deal with a third-party company to handle assembly and shipment. At that point, it still looked like the Moov was on track.
One week later, though, an inventor named Daniel Wood was granted a patent for a very similar idea. Wood is currently employed by Future Motion, which makes the OneWheel — a self-balancing vehicle that operates like a single-wheeled skateboard — and was also involved in the development of other self-balancing rideables like the Hovetrax and Solowheel, he toldThe Verge. Wood also developed a self-balancing unicycle with his own company, Focus Designs, nearly a decade ago, and even appeared on Shark Tank to pitch the idea.