Hoverboards may be in major American stores in time for Christmas after all. Razor USA, the company behind the wildly popular scooters, has signed a licensing agreement to sell hoverboards in the US, BuzzFeed News has learned.
Razor paid inventor Shane Chen an undisclosed sum for exclusive rights to his patent for "a two-wheel, self-balancing personal vehicle."
The deal was inked "very recently," Katherine Mahoney, vice president of marketing for Razor USA, said in a Friday email to BuzzFeed News, declining to specify when negotiations began.
"The Hovertrax is a progressive extension of Razor's commitment to innovation in ride-on products," Mahoney said in the email. "Combining quality, technology and our dedication to giving our customers the most current in electric scooters, Razor is continuing its mission to expand the audience for electric-powered ride-ons."
Mahoney added, "There is a great deal of retail interest in the Razor Hovertrax and [it] will available for the holidays."
On Friday, BuzzFeed News reported that the billionaire businessman Mark Cuban had backed out of an earlier deal to acquire rights to Chen's patent, opening the door for Razor.
Hoverboards are likely to be one of the hottest retail items this Christmas season, and Razor's acquisition of Chen's patent could be a pathway for the scooters to make their way onto American store shelves. Until now, most of the boards have been sold online through a patchwork of large retailers and small Shopify pop-up stores, in part due to patent concerns.
Razor products are found in some of the nation's largest stores, including Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys R' Us, though the company declined to specify if its hoverboard would be in stores, online, or both.
"It is definitely a very significant cultural phenomenon," Carlton Calvin, founder and president of Razor USA, said in an interview with BuzzFeed News last month. "It's something that has captured my attention."
Calvin said last month that he had tried the hoverboard, which he found "easier than the solo wheel," but not as comfortable as Razor scooters.
"It's nice to have it so compact where the wheels are side by side on a hoverboard but we make things with wheels one in front of the other, which is inherently balancing like a bicycle," Calvin said. "You put one wheel in front and one wheel in back and that automatically balances you."
The Hovertrax won't be the only board available to holiday shoppers. Target told BuzzFeed News on Friday that it will be carrying a separate brand of hoverboard called the Swagway on its website this holiday season. The $500 device should be available online by the end of this week, a spokesperson said. The company added that it hasn't been able to disclose plans until now as "this is a hot item or the holiday season and we needed to find a vendor that could provide us with adequate inventory."
Joe Bernstein is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bernstein reports on and writes about the gaming industry and web culture.
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Sapna Maheshwari is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Maheshwari reports on retail and e-commerce.
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