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SawStop seeks to stop Bosch in court

Just one week before the AWFS fair, one exhibitor filed suit against another exhibitor, claiming infringement on its patented safety-technology inventions.

SawStop is taking on Bosch in a dispute over table saws with similar flesh-detecting technology that stop a running blade.

SawStop filed federal complaints at the U.S. International Trade Commission and U.S. District Court in Oregon against Robert Bosch GmbH of Germany and its subsidiary, Robert Bosch Tool Corp., to stop alleged infringement of SawStop’s patented inventions.

The complaint specifically refers to Bosch’s introduction of the model GTS1041A Reaxx job-site saw with Active Response Technology that drops the blade below the tabletop after user contact. The blade is undamaged and the saw can be quickly reset for operation, according to Bosch. SawStop’s system also drops the blade, but destroys it with an aluminum brake.

Specifically, SawStop has asked the USITC to investigate whether the Bosch Reaxx saw infringes various patents, and if so, to block the importation and/or sale of those saws. The complaint filed in district court seeks damages, a permanent injunction and attorney fees.

The complaint, obtained by Woodshop News, is full of diagrams, photographs and specific details of the alleged patent violation. It chronicles the company’s extensive research and development efforts and contains a mother’s letter thanking SawStop for preventing a serious injury to her son.

It also lists six inventions by SawStop in which alleged infringement has occurred:

A woodworking machine with a control system that monitors rotation of a cutting tool and triggers a reaction system only if the cutting tool is moving, thereby distinguishing between potentially safe and unsafe operator contact with the cutting tool.

A woodworking machine with a control system that tests whether a reaction system is operational.

A woodworking machine with a removable cartridge having a single-use component that is expended upon triggering of the cartridge.

A woodworking machine having a reaction system that retracts a cutting tool below a work surface within approximately 14 milliseconds after the detection of a dangerous condition.

A woodworking machine having a reaction system that uses stored energy to move a component 1/32 of an inch within approximately 3 milliseconds after a dangerous condition is detected.

A woodworking machine that retracts a cutting tool by pivoting it away from the cutting region.

“In order to judge whether Bosch uses SawStop’s inventions, one must compare Bosch’s saw to SawStop’s patent claims, not to SawStop’s job-site saw,” SawStop vice president Matt Howard told Woodshop News. “SawStop’s job-site saw, and any differences between SawStop’s and Bosch’s saws, are irrelevant to the question of infringement.”

“At Bosch we protect our intellectual property and we also believe in the rights of other companies to protect their intellectual property,” Bosch North America spokeswoman Linda Beckmeyer says. “The Bosch Reaxx job-site table saw is based on patented innovations done by the Power Tool Institute, with advance development done by the engineering team at Robert Bosch Tool Corp. in Mount Prospect, Ill. This research has resulted in more than a dozen U.S. patents. At Bosch, safety is a priority and we will work to defend consumers’ rights to buy our products.”

Howard said SawStop expected the USITC to start an investigation by the end of August and Bosch to respond within the following month. The USITC process generally takes about 18 months beginning to end. The pace of the case in district court will likely be much slower. Bosch says its saw will be available for sale this fall. SawStop’s job-site saw has been on the market since spring.

“With regard to the future, SawStop continues to build on a decade of proven safety, with over 70,000 saws shipped and thousands of fingers saved. We continue to invest heavily in research and development as we seek to introduce safer and better woodworking tools. In fact, we just returned from the AWFS fair in Las Vegas, where our new job-site saw was recognized with the Visionary Award for product innovation. This acknowledgment of the groundbreaking innovation and safety of our new saw is evidence of our enduring dedication to the protection of woodworkers,” Howard adds.

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue.

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