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Will Amazon Hoverboard Crackdown Be a Boon to eBay?

eBay continues to promote hoverboards as sites like Amazon and Overstock.com crack down on the products which are making headlines due to safety concerns. Amazon also has concerns about patent liability, spelling double trouble for merchants who stocked up on the popular products that could now be unsellable on certain marketplaces.

Amazon sellers noted on December 1st that a fellow merchant was featured in a news report about a hoverboard that caught fire and destroyed a home. WGNOreported on the incident and wrote, “A shipping order provided by the family shows that the hoverboard came from a company called “Fit Turbo” and was ordered on Amazon.com.”

Overstock.com issued a press release on December 9th revealing it was discontinuing the sale of “Hover board self-balancing electric scooters” citing concern for customer safety – it also contacted customers who purchased the items, offering to accept them back for a full refund.

Sellers say Amazon put restrictions on the accounts of merchants selling hoverboards on December 11th, requiring them to provide it with certain documentation while it holds their accounts in review. And BestReviews noted on December 12th that the five models of hoverboards it had reviewed were no longer available on Amazon’s site.

eBay has not issued a statement regarding hoverboards. eBay CEO Devin Wenig told Wall Street analysts in November that hoverboards were a hot-selling item, and as Fortune noted, eBay reported having sold nearly 7,500 hoverboards on Cyber Monday – one every 12 seconds.

A search on eBay for “hoverboard” on Sunday evening returned 8,280 listings, while a search on Amazon brought back 49 results.

EcommerceBytes obtained a copy of the email Amazon sent merchants:

We are contacting you because you list “hoverboards” (battery powered, self-balancing scooters) on Amazon.com. Amazon approval is now required to sell these products.

What do I need to do?

Your hoverboard listings have been removed. If you would like to resume selling hoverboards on Amazon.com, please do the following:

1) Provide documentation demonstrating that all hoverboards you list are compliant with applicable safety standards, including UN 38.3 (battery), UL 1642 (battery), and UL 60950-1 (charger).

2) Provide written confirmation that you will indemnify and defend Amazon against any claims of patent infringement, and the contact information of the lawyer that will defend you against any related claims. It has come to our attention that these products are the subject of potential patent litigation by Razor USA LLC in connection with U.S. Patent No. 8,738,278. The terms of your seller agreement require you to indemnify Amazon for any patent infringement claims involving your listings.

All information should be sent to hoverboard-listing@amazon.com. Please include your seller name, your seller ID number, and a list of ASINs you would like to offer. The safety information you provide should clearly relate to the ASINs you would like to offer.

You will not be permitted to sell hoverboards on Amazon.com unless you provide this information.

Where can I get more information?

For more information about Razor’s patent claim, please contact Razor’s counsel:

Mr. John Cochrane
General Counsel, Razor USA LLC

It appears Amazon may be just as concerned about patent litigation as it is with consumer-safety lawsuits, citing Razor’s litigation (read more about that in this USA Today article).

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.