Ask Hackaday: SawStop — Bastion of Safety or Patent Troll

At first glance, SawStop seems like a hacker’s dream. A garage tinkerer comes up with a great idea, builds a product around it, and the world becomes a better place. As time has gone on, other companies have introduced similar products. Recently, SawStop successfully stopped Bosch from importing saws equipped with their Reaxx safety system into the USA. This not only impacts sales of new saws, but parts for existing equipment. Who gets screwed here? Unfortunately, it’s the owners of the Bosch saws, who now have a safety feature they might not be able to use in the future. This has earned some bad press for SawStop in forums and on websites like Reddit, where users have gone as far as to call SawStop a patent troll. Is that true or just Internet puffery? Read on and decide for yourself.

The SawStop blade brake

Back in around 2002, we first started hearing about a new technology called SawStop that made table saws safer. Table saws are one of the most dangerous tools in the woodworking shop, so anything that makes them safer to work around is a welcome innovation. Most Hackaday readers probably already know how SawStop works – the blade is used as a giant capacitive sensor. If the capacitive touch sensor detects anything, an aluminum brake is fired into the saw blade. This stops the blade and drops the motor and blade assembly below the table surface. There is no question that the SawStop system works, and has saved people from grievous injury to their hands, fingers, and other body parts.

The controversy centers around Dr. Stephen Gass, who invented the system. Gass isn’t a carpenter by trade. He has a doctorate in physics and worked as a patent attorney. Woodworking was a hobby, as it is for many of us here at Hackaday. Dr. Gass doesn’t want to be in the tool industry. He came up with an idea, patented it, and wanted to license the technology to the tool industry. SawStop began selling tools because the tool industry wasn’t onboard with Gass’s ideas.

The SawStop story has been told as an analogy of David and Goliath. Goliath being the power tool industry and their lawyers. The story goes back to a 2001 presentation to the Defense Research Industry, a trade group for lawyers who handle product liability and similar defense cases.

Gass presented SawStop, including the now famous hot dog demonstration. The next speaker was Dan Lanier, a lawyer for Black and Decker. Lanier presented a hypothetical lawsuit involving SawStop. In Gass’s view, the crux of the presentation was that if the industry adopted SawStop any saw sold without the technology could be viewed as defective, and any injury caused by such a saw subject to a lawsuit.

In the end, no tool company ever licensed the technology. Ryobi came close to signing an agreement back in 2002. The agreement said that Ryobi would pay SawStop 3% of the wholesale price of each saw sold with the SawStop system. If and when the power tool industry adopted SawStop, the royalty would increase to 8%. Ryobi kept stalling, and the agreement was never signed. Ryobi is now losing personal injury lawsuits based on not signing that agreement.

Gass and his partners believed in the technology, so they left their attorney jobs, got in touch with a tool manufacturer in Taiwan, and started building table saws themselves. They also began lobbying the US government to make safety systems standard on all saws.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Fast forward a few years, and now we have other players entering the saw safety game. There is the Whirlwind system, which activates when the user touches the blade guard, rather than the blade itself. Whirlwind is notable because it stops the blade without damage to the saw or the blade. The user can continue cutting after a change of underwear. Whirlwind appears to be another small startup company. It seems they are concentrating more on aftermarket modifications to existing saws.

Bosch also entered the arena with Reaxx. Reaxx uses a similar sensing system to SawStop but doesn’t stop the saw blade at all. An explosive gas generator called an activation cartridge is discharged. These cartridges are similar to the chemical charges used in airbags. Rather than inflating a bag, the activation cartridges throw a piston out. The piston pushes the entire blade and motor assembly down below the table. The blade isn’t damaged, there is no brake to replace. The only consumable is the piston cartridge.

SawStop sued Bosch for patent infringement. After several court battles, here is how things stand. Bosch was found to infringe on SawStop patents 7,895,927 and 8,011,279. The International Trade Commission ruled to ban the import of Reaxx saws and equipment. Bosch has said they will appeal the decision. While the saws can’t be imported, you can still buy them from Amazon. This most likely is distributor stock. For people who already bought the saw, this means they won’t be able to buy the activation cartridges. So the safer saw they paid extra for is now an ordinary table saw. For now, Bosch is getting around this import issue by producing the activation cartridges here in the USA.

The closest parallel we can find to a story like this is that of the seat belt. The three-point belt was invented by Nils Bohlin while he worked for Volvo. The difference is that Volvo recognized how important belts were and ensured the technology would be free for any automaker.

So what do you think? Is the SawStop the story of an inventor who is just trying to make the world safer? An egomaniac who wants to control the tool world and force everyone to use (and pay for) his system? Or something in between? Let us know in the comments.

209 thoughts on “Ask Hackaday: SawStop — Bastion of Safety or Patent Troll

    1. It has been my experience that big companies will buy patents or manufacturing rights to kill a product. They buy the rights to a product then, due to manufacturing costs, product fit, or that they didn’t think of it first, they never produce it. In this case, I’m afraid, we never would have seen the SawStop. The woodworking machinery industry, unless forced by competion, would never volunteer to raise their prices. The profit margins are too slim.

      1. IMHO this kind of behavior should be illegal. If a company buys a patent with no intentions or plans to ever use it, or plan to use it but several years pass and they could have used it but didn’t, then it should be forced to be auctioned off or released into public domain.

      2. Something I’ve mentioned before, Reader’s Digest ran an article on it. A small company developed a method to take a sample of bone marrow from a person with leukemia and run it through a device that 100% filtered out cancerous cells, leaving only healthy cells. The healthy cells would be cultured until there’s enough to use for a transplant. The patient would undergo exactly the same procedure as for a marrow transplant from another person, but would be getting their own cells back so no need for a lifetime of expensive anti-rejection drugs.

        The inventor of the device had to use it for himself, he got leukemia. He was one of the last to be treated with it due to a lawsuit from a large pharmaceutical company that claimed patent infringement.

        The basic idea is fairly simple, making it *perfect* is not so simple. The big guys presented a device that in tests did not result in a cancer free output. Apparently they’d filed a “submarine patent”. That used to be a practice where a patent could be filed but the processing delayed at the request of the filer.

        Then if someone else invents something similar, the filer of the submarine patent could let it “surface” and “torpedo” the other inventor due to the earlier filing date.

        US patent law has since been modified to eliminate submarine patents – but that marrow filtering device vanished into the maw of companies that make bank from anti-rejection drugs. The company filing suit had no intention of taking over production, otherwise they’d have perfected their own version – if indeed they really did think of or do any real work on it first.

        The Reader’s Digest article mentioned the names of companies and people but I didn’t retain that info. The mere fact that a corporation would stop a life saving device from being produced in order to bleed money for life from cancer patients is enough to be pissed off about.

        If the patent or patents have expired, then someone could re-develop the process and nobody could claim patent infringement to stop them. It’d be a giant middle finger to the drug companies, but also an uphill battle VS the FDA and the drug companies who’d pull every dirty trick they know of to prevent its approval.

        Something for the bio-hackers to have a look into, eh?

        1. Readers Digests website has a searchable database of every story they’ve ever run. No such story is listed.

          There are numerous blogs, chat boards and forums for the discussion of Leukemia treatments. None of them reference this claim, which would be huge news if true.

          Even Snopes has no page either verifying or discounting this claim, so it seems that they’ve never heard of it either.

          In other words, it’s just random anti-drug company fake news.

  1. Well, this is an example of how to kill an invention with greed. An 8% royalty is huge, that is why nobody signed. With a reasonable royalty, say $1 per machine, he would have made millions. 8% on a $500 table saw = $40 a complete killer.

      1. SawStop have now entered the table saw market as well as the cabinet saw one. Their cheapest table saw is $1,299.

        SawStop have also managed to effectively close down virtually all school woodworking shops in CA by means of getting the CA Board of Ed to ‘strongly advise’ SawStop saws in public school workshops. That advise prompted the schools liability insurers to withdraw coverage from any school that didn’t refit with SawStop saws. Schools just don’t have that sort of money for ‘vocational’ classes, so woodshop was shut down.

        On the plus side, that enabled me to buy a pristine 3HP 3-phase Powermatic cabinet saw with Biesemeyer fence, overhead guard and dust collection, and a large blade and accessory collection, for $300 from my local high school when they closed their wood shop rather than buy all new SawStops. I also got a 14″ Delta band saw for $150 plus a bunch of smaller stuff.

    1. You do realize that Sawstop is the number one selling cabinet saw and that they have “made millions”? Can’t say I know the exact numbers, but all of wholesale a lot more than 1, 3 or even 10%. I would say the big corporations biggest mistake was that they, through there inaction, forced someone else to have the better mousetrap.

      1. SawStop is not the number one selling cabinet saw.

        They advertise that they are the “number one cabinet saw’, not the number one selling.

        Cabinet saws are, also, a very small market compared to contractor or benchtop saws, where they have only a tiny share of the market.

        Richard

      2. Number one? Deltas and JET are far FAR more common. In fact go to any cabinet shop and you will see a 25-35 year old JET or Delta because they are built like tanks and can last 40+ years easily. I have seen exactly one SawStop cabinet saw, it was at a trade show. So I would really like to see their real sales numbers because the pros are not buying them.

        They might be the #1 selling cabinet saw to home tinker types, but not to professionals that make money with them.

        1. As others have stated, SawStops are very common in educational settings. At the university I work at, every table saw on campus (5+) is a SawStop. The wider industry might not use them, but to universities, it’s an easy sell from the lawyers.

    2. It seems logical that anyone that is injured using a Bosch saw, because they can’t get the gas cartridge, should then be suing SawStop for their interference in the matter.

  2. Both sides are jerks. SawStop invented something truly great, and they have yet to get any money from any manufacturers. They make their own products, but they are so expensive that they cannot sell that many, and I have never seen one for sale at any home improvement store.

    I could argue that they are jerks for stopping something similar. I could also say that they deserve SOME money for pioneering such a system.

    Saw manufacturers are jerks for not offering this initially. About 10 years ago, I wanted to buy a table saw. As it turns out, the SawStop goes for over $2000, a lot of money for a guy who uses it a couple of times a year. Surely all manufacturers including it as a standard would cost less than $200 to add it to a product.

    Bosch is a jerk for not just licensing some patents in the first place.

    1. And consumers are jerks for wanting the cheapest possible product, and choosing the cheaper one, when one came with the ‘doesn’t cut your fingers off +$40 version…..?

      1. Sadly, a $500 saw has a bill of materials of about $125, which ends up in retains at $500, so a $40 fee would add $160 to the retail price.
        Pure and simple greed on the part of the inventors, much like the Wright brothers = the original patent trolls, who set back US aviation for decades until their patents expired by asserting their patents and refusing to licence and yet being unable to advance their basic technology on their own.

        1. “… until their patents expired by asserting their patents and refusing to licence and yet being unable to advance their basic technology on their own.”

          Well, that’s exactly how the patent system is designed to work, otherwise it would be a very short run for most inventors.

          On the main topic, I very much dislike the push for regulatory capture on basis of false concern for end users of table saws. In fact, if a novelty improvement of a well-established kind of everyday objects is so important that it commands regulative mandatory upgrade or must-have directive, then the lawmakers should use public money to buy universal patent rights for the improvement from the inventor and release the rights to the public. Arguably, if hypothetically the lives are at stake, and we choose to blame any of the people who is involved in procurement, than the inventor should be as liable for not granting the permission for patent usage, as producer is for not obtaining the permission and deploying the innovation.

          Also the lawsuit against the manufacturer should be dismissed. Main responsibility for proper handling of the power tool is on the operator. No existence of an intelligent safety mechanism was ever claimed, nor implied.

          1. “the inventor should be as liable for not granting the permission for patent usage, as producer is for not obtaining the permission and deploying the innovation.”

            This. With great power comes great responsibility (or resistance). Inventors should still get something though…. maybe some sort of system where every invention is automatically open for use to anyone in any product, but a mandatory 5% or something is guaranteed to the inventor by law?

          2. I actually like the “government should be able to buy it if it’s a safety concern” thing. Think of land, if the government needs to use a piece of land and the owner won’t sell, the government has the ability to veto and seize the land while paying the owner so the land can benefit the common good.

            The same should be true of safety related patents. If someone invents something (say seatbelts) and the government can justify it as a safety thing that benefits the common good (Less people dying from crashes, less cost in paying for hospitals, less clutter in hospitals from lack-of-seatbelt related injuries benefits other non-vehicle related patents, etc) then the government should be able to go “It would be negligent to not use this to save lives, here is some money / some percent whatever but I’m taking this for the greater good” and make it open domain. Reimburse the inventor absolutely but make sure everyone can benefit from a safety point of view.

          3. That’s why the light aircraft industry contracted drastically in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Lawsuits from idiots who didn’t properly maintain their small airplanes and crashed them. They or their relatives would sue and claim product defects, even when the “defects” were clogged fuel filters or squirrel nests in the air intake. People were suing for “defects” when they’d decide to go fly a plane that’d sat in a hangar for a couple of years. Top off the fuel, don’t inspect anything, then crash when the old gas and gummy oil caused a loss of power on takeoff.

            The expense of defending themselves against said idiots resulted in ending production of many models of small aircraft, and some companies going out of business or being sold to other companies.

            The federal government, in a rare display of doing something right and sane, passed a law to put an 18 year limit on product defect liability for light aircraft. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Aviation_Revitalization_Act

        2. Yeah, because people inventing and engineering stuff are doing it for the exposure. And the manufacturer gets all the other important stuff – electricity, water, machinery, a building to place everything in, etc. – for free.

          When will the time come when people will stop referring to the BOM during each and every “It’s overpriced” discussion?
          Probably never.

          1. In many cases the inventor is owed back-pay for a decent salary for the time to invent the product, plus invested capital, plus interest. It’s a large sum, just like the BOM for manufacturers.

        3. The Wrights showed everyone how to build an airplane and others, like Bell and Langley, wanted to use that for free. Keep in mind that Langley had spent between 10 and 100 times more than the Wrights and failed; the Wrights were offering reasonable licensing.

      2. If you use table saws properly (i.e. not the way the guy in the top cartoon is using it) they are perfectly safe. The issue comes when you start to do freehand cuts and don’t use push sticks properly and such.

          1. Failing to follow safe practices is not just a simple “oops”, it’s negligence.

            “Oops I forgot to install the riving knife, but started cutting anyways and now my fingers are gone”.

        1. I the problem I seen in the lead illustration the saw operator was distracted from the job at hand. A hazard even if all the simple inexpensive simple safety options and methods are in use.

          1. Except the choice is not $1600 for a saw or $1600 for a finger. It is insurance against the finger. There are many saws sold in the USA, and comparatively few fingers to sew back on. Not to mention there’s ways of safely using a table saw.

          2. “Except the choice is not $1600 for a saw or $1600 for a finger.”

            That and if a person actually expects to cut a finger off they would probably buy no saw at all and just go find another hobby!

        1. It’s also worth noting that the incidence rate for torso, face and eye injuries using SawStop saws is much higher than for saws using modern guard / riving knife systems. A study showed that users of SawStop saws were far more likely to operate their saws without the guards in place, as the assumption was that the shutdown system would protect them.

          While this prevents hand and finger injuries, it does nothing for kickback injuries, which are actually far more common. (It is interesting to note that SawStops own advertising highlights the “A table saw accident every 8 1/2 minutes!” statistic, while not mentioning that most of those injuries are kickback related, not hand to blade.)

          Richard

    2. The text of the patents is what bothers me. Both patents read like some kind of blue sky, “wouldn’t it be great if something worked this way” story. The claims then go on to describe a myriad of ways that a dangerous “thing” could be stopped to prevent injuries to a user.

      The patent doesn’t tell you how to build anything. The patent tells you what you’re no longer allowed to build without paying royalties, and that’s the part that should bother us all.

      1. Agree, the patent office needs to weed out these patents that are too broad. Of course when applying for a patent you try to make your claims as broad as you can, but if you are granted something that really shouldn’t have been granted, it can later be invalidated by courts. This is not good for the inventor or for competitors, the only one who wins is the lawyers.

        1. “the only one who wins is the lawyers” Isn’t that pretty much always the case nowadays? Why else would my toaster have a warning not to use it in the bathtub?

          1. Mowers that warn you not to place limbs under mower, and that the blade is moving when the engine is running. Lysol wipes and window wipes with a warning that they are not for feminine hygiene use. The fact that we’ve had to pass laws making it illegal specifically to text or otherwise type things into or watch your phone screen while driving. BBQs that have warnings that the surface may be hot.

            All of these warnings are in place because multiple people have done these things, and continue to do them.

        2. Even if the USPTO where to try and weed out patents and trademarks that are judged by a bureaucrat as too broad the lawyers will still win. Other than maintaining the basic court system patent lawsuits don’t affect the taxpayer directly. Put in a system that has patent applicant suing the uspto the taxpayer will be paying to defend the government’s position as well as any monetary wards given the to plaintiffs. Enforcement of patents and trademark have been privatized since day on,, and generally works well.

      2. There are two main types of patent. Utility and Design. A Utility patent covers every possible configuration of a thing. For example, the automobile, the airplane, electronic television. Selden, Wright Bros., Farnsworth.

        The Selden patent on the automobile was obvious trolling. Selden never built a vehicle, but most manufacturers knuckled under and paid – except Ford.

        The Wright Brothers did in fact become “firstest with the mostest” in building a self propelled flying vehicle able to rise above its point of liftoff. Thus aeroplane, patented. In that case the existence of the patent was a driver for flight technology. Developments such as hinged ailerons and front mounted props came about as ways to work around aspects of the Wright patents, which were quite specific on details. The Wrights also had to fight the Smithsonian, and Glenn Curtiss who colluded in modifying Samuel P. Langley’s spectacular failure ‘Aerodrome’ to make it sturdy and powerful enough to make a short hop without falling apart to ‘prove’ it *could have been* the first self propelled heavier than air vehicle, then put it on display in the museum as the “first airplane”. One of the Wrights wrote an article detailing all the alterations that had to be made to make it “fly”, was hardly the same vehicle whose crumpled mess had been fished out of the Potomac. The Smithsonian’s skin in that game was Langley has been the Secretary of the institution when he was doing flops into the river, and it was their money that paid for it.

        Farnsworth filed his patent for 100% electronic television in 1927, then proceeded to make it real. He made the tactical error of generously showing off his work to people he shouldn’t have, including a spy working for the Radio Corporation of America. RCA had *never* licensed a patent. They’d offer inventors a flat sum, no royalties. If they wouldn’t sell outright, they’d just copy it and get away with it because they had the money and the lawyers. Farnsworth wouldn’t sell, and unlike everyone else whose work RCA had stolen, he refused to back down. After RCA put together a team who had never done any work with TV to make their guy Zworykin’s idea work, they came back with a system virtually identical to Farnsworth’s, because it was the only way it could work. RCA finally agreed to license Farnsworth’s patent but they’d dragged things out long enough they didn’t have to pay for long before the patent expired.

        A Design patent covers just that, the design of a product. A patent on a specific style of automobile or boat or aircraft or TV only protects against someone else producing an exact or nearly indistinguishable copy. One article on patents I read in the pre-internet era included an example of a USPTO error. Some guy invented pivoting handgrips for wheelbarrow handles. The idea was to make it easy to maintain control of the barrow when dumping it forward because the user didn’t have to shift his grip. The USPTO accidentally granted him a Utility patent on the wheelbarrow. He brought it to their attention and they corrected it to a Design patent for the handles. The inventor was unable to interest any manufacturer in his idea.

        What appears to be the goal of many patent applications is to make a Design patent so broad in application it is in all but name a Utility patent.

        I think they should go back to not granting patents without a fully functional example of the thing being patented to prove that what the inventor wants to protect is actually possible and thus worth the protection of a patent.

      3. I like to call that kind of patent a “sci-fi patent.” It patents an idea that would work if some unknown/nonexistent technologies could fill in the blanks to make it possible.

    3. Yes, a SawStop is more expensive. However, the uplift over a comparable saw was about $500-$700 when I was shopping for one about 4 years ago.

      Table saws, like most tools, come in several grades; cheap, home grade, professional, and industrial grade. In the case of a table saw, that range can be from $150 to $7,000. Lots of features and size differences obviously, but all table saws. The $150 saw will last for a project. The $7,000 saw would last a homeowner for generations. The $150 saw is maybe accurate to a degree or two and 1/16″ if you spend time setting it up right. A cabinet grade saw (~$2k or better) is good to a fraction of a degree and << 1/128" on every axis.

      The issue you have with their $2,000US saw is it is in a class with similarly priced cabinet grade table saws. I bought one. I love it. It is as good as my PowerMatic cabinet saw.

      For certain public places, such as a makerspace, I wouldn't buy anything buy a SawStop. The payback on the insurance rates was $1k USD per year on our insurance bill.

      On the flip side, if you, as a a consumer, have a choice to get the saw that is safer or the one that is not, and you lop off a finger, I would prefer that the damages be limited to the cost difference. But that’s just an opinion. :)

    4. Since we’ve seen too implementations of this technology, both of which are in the $1000+ ballpark, (1,200 SawStop, $1,500 Bosch) I sincerely doubt that this is a cheap thing to add to a table saw. I’d further point out that the Bosch model is the most telling, since it’s based on a existing model that retailed in the $500 range.

      You won’t see their products for sale in a home improvement center for the same reason you won’t see a jointer, a mortiser or a number of more specialized wood working tools. Their niche by their very nature.

      However, if you compare the SawStop cabinet saw to others in that category, the price point is pretty middle of the road. A bit higher than Grizzly, lower than Powermatic, and far below industrial models with Northfield.

      As disappointed as I am to see the Bosch saw withdrawn from the market, I think SawStop is an innovative company, with a unique product, that deserves the protection afford to them by law.

    5. Schools are being forced to buy these SawStop systems for their woodworking shops due to the lawsuits mentioned above, and according to the local wood shop teacher at Fairview Highschool they are paying the retail $2000 price tag, and they’ve bought it. Based on that I’d say these guys are trolls. They’ve trolled the entire sawmill market by producing a suddenly legally required safety mechanism and demanding a absurd amount for the royalties, trolled the education system by charging the obscene full price for the system, and trolled the companies who have already drastically innovated upon and obsoleted their design.

      1. Or… maybe schools are buying the only equipment with this safety feature? Honestly the $2K price tag is very reasonable, when compared to other products in this same category. Comparing this to the el cheapo contractor saws at the home center is like comparing bobcat to a tank. Completely different categories.

        Grizzly Cabinet Saw: $2K http://www.grizzly.com/products/10-Heavy-Duty-Cabinet-Table-Saw-With-Riving-Knife/G0651
        Powermatic Cabinet Saw: $3K https://www.woodcraft.com/products/powermatic-pm2000-10-table-saw-model-1792000k
        Jet: $2.5K https://www.woodcraft.com/products/jet-xactasaw-deluxe-table-saw-3hp-1ph-50-rip?via=573621bd69702d0676000002%2C573621e069702d0676000f61%2C576401c669702d6582000f24

        1. >only
          I wonder why? Bosch sees the idea, goes “Hey that’s cool, but let’s not ruin the blade when it triggers” and COMPLETELY ENGINEERS THEIR OWN from the ground up, and then gets sued for adding a safety feature just because it serves the same purpose.

          That’s the point where sawstopped being an innovator and became a troll. Make a feature? Awesome. Sell the idea / make it yourself? Great. But when you start being a bag of dicks to other companies when they come up with completely new ways to implement a similar feature that’s going too far. This was by no means a copy-paste job, the Bosch system was completely different and by many measures drasticly better. Just look at it:

          This is the kind of thing a school woodshop teacher could reset in 10 minutes if a student tripped it. The sawstop version takes more time AND a new blade AND more money.

          1. I don’t understand how Sawstop was able to successfully prevent this from being sold in the USA. It uses an entirely different method. Simply saying it drops the blade to prevent injury seems ridiculously broad. Any one at any time can say that. It is the technology to do it that is difficult to design.

            I like this one a lot better.

        2. The Jet you linked to has a 50-in rip capacity. A Sawstop from the same website with the same capacity (size) is $4k, not $2k.
          What it boils down to is if a custom cabinet maker feels that they can afford/need a saw that costs $1500 more just because it will protect them in the event they do something stupid, like shoving a hand into the blade. My guess is that for most the answer will be no.

      2. Are the schools forced, or are they making a calculated move to avoid shop accidents? Sawstop is a no brainer for classrooms and makerspaces. Of course safe practices should be taught, but avoiding young kids losing fingers at the beginning of their lives is worth the cost of the sawstop. $2k is not exorbitant for a tool that will be used by hundreds of kids for years to come.

        I remember in my middle school shop class they didn’t even let students use the table saw, we had a dull bandsaw, files and sandpaper to make our paper towel dispensers. Table saws take a lot of practice/experience to learn to use safely. The sawstop is a good way to expose kids and beginners to the table saw without the risk that they hurt themselves, I don’t see the downside to that.

    6. Yup, I’m with you. They’re both / all greedy dicks, fuck the lot of them. Inventing something to save lives and limbs is admirable, but trying to gouge manufacturers on it, and have the bare cheek to pretend you care about safety, is a cunt’s trick. If he’s that worried about safety, license the thing out for nothing, or 5c, or whatever.

      There’s enough businesses lobbying governments in the world as it is, in the interests of their own profits. It brings government into (yet more) disrepute. Makes the whole system, the whole idea of people coming together to achieve what we couldn’t alone, into some corrupt cow for milking.

      Was it Dorothy Squires who was declared a “vexatious litigant” and banned from bringing lawsuits against people, because she was a complete menace, suing everyone she set eyes on? Perhaps there should be some similar thing for commercial entities bothering governments in the name of profit.

      That, or limit political campaign spending to a tiny fraction of what it is now. So the great need for slush money wouldn’t exist. It’s ridiculous that it costs hundreds of millions to get into power in the USA, and still far too much in other places.

    7. At first I liked the idea of sawstop until I found out it destroys your blade every time it activates. The false positives fraking a $100-200 blade turned me away from it.

      The bosch system is something I would buy because the only consumable is a gas cartridge and it doesn’t destroy your blades.

      BTW has anybody noticed that Norm Abrams still has all his fingers?

      1. There are no false positives. 99% of users never trip the system. This isn’t some sort of monthly occurrence where you would worry about the cost of the cartridge (~$80) and the blade (anywhere from $30 to $350 depending on how fancy you go).

        1. Sorry, but I have to call B.S. on that.
          I personally have had a Sawstop trigger at least four times in situations where my body was not in jeopardy. I consider that a false positive. At that point in time the cartridges were $150 each, plus blade.

          Staple in the end of a 2×4 – BAM,
          Wet spot on a piece of plywood – BAM.

          1. Neither of those are false positives. The directions are pretty clear on don’t cut wet or conductive material. The fact that you didn’t inspect the material puts the fault squarely in your column.

            If you are paying $150 for carts, you are buying them in the wrong place. They are $85 on Amaz.n.

    1. I always considerer trolls to be worthless siphons of innovation. These guys actually made something. Is it wrong to say “well gee, everybody should have one!”? Maybe they played their cards wrong with what they were charging, but we still all want to be this guy. As long as he is playing the game by the rules I think hackaday is a little in the wrong calling them a troll. An inventor created something, no one bought it, and the established manufacturers copied it. lawyers and lawsuits will be played for a while….

      1. not wrong to suggest everyone should use a thing you’ve invented. Working with government to make a thing mandatory or risk some sort of official punishment, not as much.

      2. Well, the thing with sawstop is that it’s a pretty shit system for $2,000. It destroys the blade, it destroys the sawstop mechanism and there is debris flying all over the place. Not even starting to think about the bearings being put under serious and probably unaccounted for stress.

        Now look at the Bosch system. Two user-replaceable cartridges in one saw (in case the user doesn’t learn from his misstake the first time). And no need to replace anything except for the two blown cartridges to make the saw useable again, which is done in no time.

        If they’d both have an initial price of $2,000 and i’d need a safer saw, i’d totally go for the Bosch one. But it’s not just better, it’s also cheaper. No fudgin wonder, that people will rather buy the Bosch one.

        1. And no wonder Sawstop would try to litigate them out of the market.

          If they really were about safety, they’d accept the better system and one-up them. Instead they’re simply trolling for money.

        2. You clearly know next to nothing about these machines. No, it doesn’t destroy the saw. Yes, it does destroy a blade, but doesn’t using a blade destroy it. They are consumables. Also, there is no flying debris, the blade pretty much stops on the first teeth that contact the brake. So much so that many people have thought they became welded together. Not to mention that the blade disappears below the table instantaneously.

          1. Where did i say it destroys the saw?
            All i said was that it puts the Saw under unnecessary stress which could lead to failures.

            It’s like with cars. If you run over a curb, the suspension is put under stress. It might work out fine a few times, but eventually something – mostly some control arm – will break. It’s the same thing with sawstop. When the blade comes in contact with the brake, it suddenly gains traction and tries to move forward. But it is not designed to be able to move forward, so the result is a linear force acting on a bearing that is supposed to deal with rotation only. Even if it’s for the shortest possible amount of time, it is stress that hasn’t been accounted for.

            But clearly i’m the one knowing next to nothing about basic physics.

      3. “These guys actually made something”
        These guys had no intention of making anything. They still have no intention to continue to do so. Their end goal remains unchanged: Make these safety devices a requirement and then collect royalties from tool manufacturers.

        They are very much the definition of a patent troll. Just because you invent something doesn’t mean you’re not a patent troll. Not being a patent troll involves using the patent system to give your own product a head start. What they are doing is rentseeking.

      4. The problem is when paying some lawmaker to make a law in your favor is legal an common in your legislative system, maybe its the legislative system that is broken beyond repair..

        1. It’s not the physics part he is talking about. His physics degree was enough to come up with sawstop, but not enough to improve it. Nor was he able to be a reasonable person (lolwut, 8%?, also remember volvo and the 3point belt?) and react properly to competition.

          Instead he relied on his patent attourney experience to try and squash competition via jurisdiction. And by writing a patent that is nothing but nebulous BS.

          What he is missing is any sort of economics knowledge. If he had any, he would have realised that asking for 8% of licensees revenue is just mad and will lead to nowhere. He had a perfect cash cow to milk with his patents, but he was too greedy and wanted to eat some meat instead.

      1. To expect one to limit their activities to just one of the degrees they earn is unreasonable. As long as their are patent systems patent attorneys are going to exist Yea an inventor who is a patent attorney is an advantage, but one an individual earns.

  3. Standards & essential patents should be licensable on RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) basis. And as recent Qualcomm court cases have found, 8% of the final product is not reasonable.

  4. I’m sure Sawstop invested a lot of money developing their invention with the understanding that they would have patent protection. They deserve to be paid a license for the invention, if Bosch is infringing then Sawstop has every right to sue them and prevent Bosch from importing infringing parts.

    Sawstop is a great example of an invention that may not have existed without patents. Every invention can’t be open source, just think about it. Why would someone with the idea for a sawstop invest all the time, energy, and money developing it if they can’t protect it from being copied by a big tool company with infinite buying power? As soon as you bring it to market a larger company like Bosch or Black and Decker will just copy it and place a production order so large you can’t possibly compete with them.

      1. The people who have done well with patent royalties have asked for modest royalties and made a lot with sales volume. These guys killed and cooked the goose they wanted to lay them golden eggs. Their $2000 saw does not sell well. People will wait until expiry unless they change their tactics to reasonable ones. $1 per machine could easily make millions of bucks

        1. You may be right, in hindsight if they settled for a lower license maybe they would have made more money. I still think it is their prerogative to license for whatever price they want until their patent expires.

          1. yes, they can do that, look at what it got them. low numbers who signed up and few sales. Time will tell. The Bosch appeal might set the tone – quite a parallel to the Wright cases. They failed to maximize their returns. Too cheap is as bad as too high – they need to optimize…

        2. Moral and legal arguments aside, you are way off the mark on sales and price. SawStop saws start at $1300, and sawstop sells extremely well. I haven’t ever seen a table saw purchased in the last 8 years made by anyone other than sawstop. Just because Home Depot doesn’t carry it doesn’t mean they don’t sell well.

        3. It is a linear programming problem that can be solved with a pencil and ruler. I will bet they have done it and selected their royalty levels based on optimized gains. If not, they should bring the physicist back into the discussions.

    1. Expect the portion of the saw that is most similar to saw stop has been in use for other purposes for awhile, using the tooling as a sensor has been a thing for years, so unless they have a patent on the specific capacitive coupling of the oscillator to the saw, I don’t see why they should get a patent on using the saw blade as a sensor.

      Sawstop is an okay idea, the destroy the saw blade every time it activates is a major flaw. Bosch developed a much better system. Sawstop sells their saw to 2 grand, and wanted 8% of every saw. 8% of a products sale price is unreasonable for a single feature that is destructive to the equipement, unless the agreement came with a transfer of liability for the sawstop system to sawstop.

      1. The patent Bosch infringed on was for a woodworking machine with cutting tool that detects a dangerous condition and moves the saw blade out of the way. You may be right that sawstop got greedy with their license offer, but the fact they are still around today tells me they aren’t doing too terribly bad.

        1. As far as I know, Saw Stop don’t sell anything that can do this though and have shown no interest in doing so. It’s quite possible that they don’t even know how to make such a saw, and were just waiting for someone else to figure out how to make it work and then demand a cut of their profits. That makes the3m a patent troll.

    2. “As soon as you bring it to market a larger company like Bosch or Black and Decker will just copy it and place a production order so large you can’t possibly compete with them.”

      LOL then the big companies “PATENT” it themselves so they are protected and then they can sue the little people for infringing on their ‘rights’ to patent anything and everything with as Alex is right ‘infinite buying power’ to the big companies who are jerks for the most part of all this…but trying to subvert the US patent and trying to do things Covertly or Wrongly to get your product out? That is wrong.

      SawStop did it right, there are patents for a reason, this is the reason for them period.

      It is the same thing with Making, and Hacking, and Ideas, give credit where credit is due.
      Credit us usually subject but not limited to giving the name of the parts of the over all product in their over all product. And/Or Monetary wise, which is the 8% I dont see %8 being alot at all, since the saw will go for a decent amount in itself. And most people wont be able to buy them unless you have a workshop, and are ok in the area of money.

      And dont look at SawStop any time soon letting their Patent Expire they will keep on renewing it for the foreseeable future, they may pay alot in renewing it but the product it self is excellent and well needed.

      1. If they got a Utility patent it’s for a term of 20 years, no extensions, but they have to pay a maintenance fee without surcharge at 3 to 3.5 years, 7 to 7.5 years, and 11 to 11.5 years after the date of issue. You cannot pay early. You may also pay with a surcharge during the “grace periods” at 3.5 to 4 years, 7.5 to 8 years, and 11.5 to 12 years after the date of issue.

        Design patents filed on or after May 13, 2015 have a term of 15 years from issuance. Design patents filed prior to May 13, 2015 have a term of 14 years from issuance. There are no maintenance fees for Design patents, and like Utility patents they are non-renewable.

    3. They’re patent trolls here because the Reaxx saw does not reasonably infringe on their patent. It works through a different mechanism and is clearly a superior technology.

      1. Reaxx might be better, but that’s immaterial if it takes the idea that sawstop patented and builds upon it without a license agreement. The patents sawstop was granted do not specify what the exact mechanism is or what type of energy it uses, just that it moves the saw blade out of the way. Maybe this is too broad and the patent will be invalidated, but that’s up to the courts to do.

          1. The patent doesn’t mention any of that. It is just about using the blade as a sensor and moving it out of the way. Which both systems do.

            So it is a patent infringement.

            They sawstop guy had a great chance of getting loads of money from the big ones. He just failed to see that modesty is a key value. And – as you said – killed and cooked the goose that was about to lay golden eggs.

        1. A patent is supposed to be for a particular realization of a concept, not any conceivable implementation of that concept. The patent office may have erred in granting an excessively broad patent, but they’re still trolls for using that way.

    4. They weren’t the only ones to have an idea for a blade brake. They invented a particular way of doing so. The other guys invented other ways of doing a similar thing that are far superior.

      The patent is supposed to allow the holder the chance to make the most of their invention and it looks as if SawStop isn’t going to make much more whether there are competitors or not.

  5. Here’s the thing about patents, if you want to profit from them you either have to do ALL of the innovating and sales yourself, or license them for reasonable amounts.

    The Wright Brothers analogy is apt, their arrogance held back quite a lot of potential innovation. Eventually, time passed, patents expired and the world moved on. Same thing’s going to happen with the SawStop ideas. Question is whether the SawStop folks are going to be able to profit effectively in the meantime or be left empty-handed when the patents expire. My guess is the latter.

    1. Or Xerox.

      Photocopiers were expensive crap until the Xerox patents expired. Everyone and their mother had developed competing systems in wait of that date, and flooded the market with cheaper, better photocopiers.

        1. And when other copiers came out, if they caught you saying “make me a Xerox”, they’d sue your business. I nearly triggered such a lawsuit, fortunately it was a friendly Xerox technician who overheard me say “let me make you a Xerox of that”, not a middle management suckup, exec, or lawyer. He named businesses around town that Xerox had sued over this.

    1. I don’t understand that either. I need to find details of the arguments in the lawsuit. By that outcome, all saw makers are liable for injuries from table saws produced in the 90’s because ‘they didn’t think of the SawStop idea sooner.’

      You cannot call a company that has ramped up production of a better built mouse trap a patent troll either. And I am not sure you can argue against their prior-art as I am not aware of any company implementing similar finger detection and stop mechanism prior to SawStop.

      1. For a number of years, my favorite “product liability WTF” case involved a chainsaw manufacturer. The manufacturer incorporated safety features into the design. Chainsaw owner A removed the safety features, later sold to owner B. Owner B used the saw for a while, then sold to owner C. Owner C injured himself using the chainsaw, and won significant damages from the manufacturer in court, presumably on the basis that the safety features shouldn’t have been defeatable.

        1. Remember when employee drug testing became a big deal in the 1980’s? It had nothing to do with catching and prosecuting drug users.

          An employee of a plastic products company in California decided to get a buzz on before he went to work. Then he decided it’d be cool to stick an arm into a film rolling machine.

          He sued his employer (and won) for not having a drug testing program that might have caught his illegal drug use which would have resulted in his being fired before he injured himself.

          With that precedent set, drug testing became the thing to do, not to protect workers or customers from those workers, but to protect the companies from idiot judges and juries awarding damages to dope addicts who injured themselves.

    2. I was thinking the exact same thing. How is Ryobi responsible for some idiot not being able to operate a tool safely? How is it not the individuals responsibility to learn how to properly and safely use power tools before using them?

    3. They’re losing lawsuits because they had the opportunity to add the safety feature, and didn’t for cost reasons. See also: the Ford Pinto.

      Not saying I agree, but it’s not unprecedented.

      1. Though the Ford Pinto didn’t actually lead to any increased amount of those accidents relative to other car brands which were more or less just as unsafe. They were just picked up as a case example of the “evils of capitalism” since they correctly predicted that the risk of the fault was lower than the cost to fix it retroactively.

        The hypocricy behind the outcry over the Pinto was that the opposition didn’t have any better answer. Given the same decision, they would have done the same. In a planned economy the whole thing would rather have been hushed down as there would have been a need to maintain the image of the infallibility of the central planning system.

    1. Correct. I managed a shop that had a mandated Sawstop saw. In the two years I was there, not once did anybody have a legitimate event where the device protected them. At least ten times we had false activations. Staple in the board – bam. $150 cartridge and a new blade. Carbon Fiber panel – bam. PCB and touch a trace – bam. Wet spot on the plywood – bam.

      Yes, there is a key activated bypass mode. Operator must hold the key on while turning on the main power switch.

  6. I’ve been reminded about another case where safety factor was important. Diamonds had a safe form of matchstick that they generously waived licensing or fee so the match design and chemical composition were freely available to anyone who made matchsticks. Before this, matchsticks were either difficult to work or prone to catching on fire the wrong way.

    Someone is an idiot for putting his greed ahead of the safety. As other said, he’d still do well if he had a much more reasonable fee like a dollar per unit rather than a percentage. The only real winner are the lawyers who get paid to fight in the court.

    1. he is a lawyer:

      “The controversy centers around Dr. Stephen Glass, who invented the system. Glass isn’t a carpenter by trade. He has a doctorate in physics and worked as a patent attorney.”

    2. Diamond was in position they could still earn a profit even if they made the safety match formula available, I really doubt Gass in such a position. While it’s an easy comparison, it’s an apple to oranges comparison.

    1. I have two patents, and I had several stolen by my lawyers. I found out when the maintenance fees for the patents the lawyers told me I didn’t get were due. Am I evil? I was a stenographer who had a pain in the ass from sitting so I invented the ergonomic seating cushion, then I invented the ergonomic chair (I called the carpal tunnel chair – they said I didn’t get it, but they divided it into several patents and submitted them individually), then I invented privacy pants for women to wear when they go to the OB/GYN (they said I didn’t get it, but I did). In fact, there was an invention submission company that put in language after my patents were stolen stating basically “if you say anything bad about us, we sue you for $100,000”; and a bunch of inventors had their patents stolen, and when they talked they were sued for $100,000 (each partner in the company). Oddly, their lawyer dropped dead at the beginning of this year. . .the only person that would have know all the patents that were stolen by that one invention submission company.
      Respectfully,
      Melanie

          1. To save you all a few seconds that you won’t get back, how? A long zip. Why? apparently it’s ok to have a camera stuffed up your bum as long as the stuffer can’t see your buttocks.
            what? Pravacy pants!

          2. OB/GYNs don’t stick things up people’s bums. At least not in a professional capacity.

            I can’t imagine ANY sort of privacy a woman could have left, during a gynaecological examination. Nothing that pants would make a difference to.

  7. I don’t think Sawstop qualifies as a patent troll. They appear to be doing at least a moderate amount of business. Woodcraft sells their products. I’ve seen three Sawstop table saws in town, all at various types of makerspaces. In two of the facilities the blade brake has worked effectively, as the broken, misshaped blades and brakes are hanging on the wall as a message to other users. Having saved people at least a few fingers, it’s a great piece of engineering.

    1. This is the first I’ve heard of SawStop. Interesting. (now I’m feeling guilty about my $150 cheap-ass contractor saw, blade guard removed because those things suck)

      ” it’s a great piece of engineering.” ??? It’s a great CONCEPT, but a system that destroys the blade and costs $$$ to re-arm doesn’t sound like great engineering to me. More like a first draft. Seems like Bosch made it more practical.

      It’s too bad that all the parties couldn’t come to reasonable terms for making this advance more widely available, and at reasonable cost. However… if you’re in a jurisdiction where a manufacturer can be sued for not having the latest and greatest safety thingy in their saw… well, anything can happen.

      If the innovation landscape is so dangerous that only an inventor who’s a patent attorney can successfully profit from the invention, there’s not alot of incentive for us hackers to commercialize inventions then, is there…

  8. Everyone seems to be missing the obvious – don’t stick your hand (or ‘hot dog’) in a table saw. It’s a stupid idea.

    If we keep saving idiots from themselves, they’ll evolve and start causing danger to others too…

    1. Even with care, accident still happened. Back in early 80s, my Grandpa lost half of his ring finger, he said it slipped. And in 1992 when I was in high school and in house building class my teacher suffered a nasty cut to his hand and didn’t come back for a few months. I was in another room so I didn’t see how it happened and I never asked. All I remember was the table saw were covered in red.

      I have seen a few close calls as well. Wood with odd knot have caught and flipped, and someone’s guide slipped off the wood block and got chewed up by the saw blade, his hand was just a couple inches away when he pulled away. Once the hand guide snapped and the small wood strip between the blade and the fixed guide got thrown several feet through the window.

      It is quite impossible to be 100% safe but common senses can greatly reduce chance of accident.

      1. Indeed. A week or so ago, I was cutting some wood with a mitre saw – probably the safest powered saw. But the blade got caught on a weird triple knot, locked up and deflected just enough to take a bite out of the solid steel fence. It also threw out a splintered block of wood at incredible speed and force. My fingers were at a safe distance but still hurt from the sheer force when the wood was ripped away. Moral of the story: always treat power tools with respect and some trepidation. Shit happens

        1. All accidents come from either not paying attention, not appreciating the machines capabilities, trying to save time, money or effort, occasionally there is a combination of a few of these.
          Shit doesn’t just happen, it needs you to make a bad decision or demonstrate stupidity first.
          Mark, you were going too fast, the riving knife was too thin or removed or the tooth pitch was too course.
          Saw stop wouldn’t work for me, I cut mostly unseasoned hardwoods, which means a thicker, but shallower riving knife than normal, wedges have to be put in the kerf as the wood progresses, and there must be an adjustable bar to hold the wood down in case the wood twists and attempts to jump up, but most importantly maintain a gap between the cutting blade and every part of your body.

          1. John clearly did not read Mark’s post and/or had an agenda before posting. John is still talking about a table saw.

            Mark, I agree. Sometimes you follow all of the safety protocol and things still go awry. That’s why they make bumper stickers.

      1. There’s a difference between noticing the problems modern-day capitalism has, and deciding to move to North Korea. Fallacy of the excluded middle, didn’t even need to look that one up.

  9. I wouldn’t call them a troll at all – they designed the invention themselves vs buying up somebody’s patent, made a serious effort to first license it and then manufacture it on their own, and have only sued when companies built something that seems to have infringed on their patents. I haven’t looked closely enough at the suit, and I’m not a lawyer anyway, but if they patented the part to detect a finger in contact with the blade on its own and Bosch built an unauthorized copy, suing makes sense. I don’t object to that part of the story. Inventers need a way to profit from their invention. Could they have done better by charging less and collecting a larger volume? Maybe.

    But the part that I find seriously objectionable is that they tried to have Congress write a law to effectively force all table saw companies to buy licenses from them. That’s crony capitalism at its worst. Thankfully, it looks like they didn’t have a sufficient supply of cronies.

    1. the patents are vague, talking about a way to sense a dangerous situation and then move the blade. they don’t say how the blade will be moved. the inventors are patent lawyers by trade, that is why they tried to go the crony capitalism route. Their biggest mistake is over valuing their product and asking for too much money. It should also be noted that their patent litigation only applies inside of the united states, Bosch is still free to sell these saws in other countries.

      1. That is my problem with a lot of patents, It seems too frequent they don’t actually cover a method of doing something. Instead they cover the concept that something can be done.

        How these vague ass patents actually manage to actually get awarded never fails to boggle my mind.

  10. Seems like a patent troll to me; more about the money than the safety. The seat belt analogy is the key here.

    Another interesting tidbit? That Black and Decker used basically the same rationale to decry adoption of this safety measure as gun manufacturers are doing with smart guns. Oh no, what if this safety feature has to be made universal, like, oh I don’t know, almost all safety features on an automobile? The horror!

  11. the only winners here are the lawyers… and seing as thge inventors are patent lawyers they are clearly winning.

    I dont think that they are trolls in the sense that prenda law was a troll, they only have a few patents related to a product that they make. that being said they are greedy and have no business sense, any one who has the slightest of business sense knows that in every market there are high end, middle road and low end offerings. These guys decided to make a high end product and are surprised that it isn’t selling in the volumes that they would have hoped it would.

    that being said I think they are douches for writing an exceptionally vague patent then trying to make it mandatory through government regulation and create a monopoly around pretty much any safety device on wood working devices.

    neither of those patents mention shoving something into the blade to stop it spinning, they only mention the movement of the blade away from the dangerous situation. Good luck to these guys, because everywhere else in the world the OEM’s will continue to sell these products, they are only making things dangerous for American people for a little bit of profit. Its a dick move but it doesn’t make them a troll. just great patent lawyers and bad business men.

  12. Some 1st impressions. Capacitive sensors are ubiquitous and there is more than enough prior art to invalidate that part of the patent. Only in the US can you get this sort of nonsense.

    And – I suspect that SawStop can’t sell there product outside the US, as it will be too expensive to run. Imagine a vehicle with airbags that go off in such a way that your steering wheel and dashboard are destroyed. If you get in a mild fender-bender, not only do you have to replace the fender and airbag, but large parts of the car interior as well! Or how a collision avoidance system that works by pushing a steel rod through a hole in the brake disk?

    SawStops product works by virtually destroying itself. All the others don’t. SawStop have chosen to protect themselves by hoodwinking the US Government to do it for them. This is not capitalism at work (except as operated in the US), this is crony-ism and bullshit. Patents have a valid place in innovation but the way they are being used in the US would be regarded as restraint of trade anywhere else.

    1. That’s precisely what airbags do when they go off – destroy expensive parts of the interior. Even some of the electronics in the sensing and activation system self destruct, or set some bit so they report themselves to the ECU as having a problem so the airbag won’t work.

      Many front passenger airbags are designed to deploy against the inside of the windshield with such force they shatter it. The claim is that’s to ‘soften’ the windshield in case the passenger isn’t belted in and somehow manages to fly forward anyway and hit the windshield.

      So if you wreck a car just hard enough to pop the airbags, where there’s none to minimal – and repairable – structural damage, getting the airbags and associated electronics and destroyed interior parts and glass replaced is very expensive.

    1. Here is an idea to implement it: People can wear electrodes on their bicep when cutting wood and when appendage-to-tool is detected, it can give a jolt to cause the bicep to flex causing the hand to flinch back. Detection doesn’t even have to be capacitance based. You can send a high frequency low amplitude modulation through the electrodes and have it detected by the saw blade upon near-field contact via electric field. Idea is free to use but sending me a Thank You card would be appreciated.

  13. Three comments:
    One, the jerks name is Stephen Gass, not Stephen Glass. Autocorrect gotcha?
    Two: Find a way around the patent and charge a buck per unit for license and SawStop will cease to exist.
    Three: If Gass really cared about the safety that his product creates, his motive would not be greed. Most patents exist simply due to greed and this one is a prime example. As others have stated, had they simply asked for a modest license fee, he would be wealthier than his dreams.

  14. I tend to agree, Glass seems to have no concern about trying to make the world a better place other than lining his pockets but then anyone who invents anything really does have the right to receive remuneration for their efforts especially when their invention is lining the pockets of another large corporate.
    The large corporate however is also are more than being a bunch of jerks as if they know there is something that works and is safer to use they kind of owe their clients a duty of care to have these things installed and not try and weasel around in order to increase their margin.

    We all however know there are often more ways to skin a cat than using a rusty paperclip. I read an article a few years back on how Patents tend to cause issues with technological advancements and in the case of the adaption Bosh made it would seem that this is clearly the case. Lets face it, replacing a gas canister would be a lot cheaper and easier to do than having to replace the arm and blade not to mention being a lot easier to do by the operator.

  15. I just entered a comment and it disappeared. Basically I disclosed to the guy that called patents evil that I have two patents on ergonomic cushions; and I had several patents stolen by my lawyers (carpal tunnel chair which became the ergonomic chair / privacy pants for women to wear when they go to the OB/GYN) and more. I only found out I had gotten them when it was time to pay the USPTO maintenance fees. This year, I discovered there was a lawyer I used to know who was working for an invention submission firm that dropped dead. She had been disbarred since 2002 but was still working and they had potential inventors sign a document saying “if I say anything bad about you, I get sued for $100,000” and they ended up getting their patents stolen and when they talked she sued them. She is the only one that would know all the patents stolen by that invention submission firm.

  16. The only chance this will see the light of day is through licensing. Good luck making your own tool brand. (we are seeing how well that is going.)

    Dude’s left their day jobs to focus on a passion for public safety. This is commendable. They also left their day jobs. So of course when the technology (made by established tool brands) starts becoming commercially available they sue the pants off them. Because they have to eat. Because they left their day jobs. At least they’re trying, I’ll give them that.

    Perhaps there is more too it (no reason rich corps should get richer) but on the surface it just seems, to me, like they had an opportunity to JUST let millions of users have this safety feature, but they chose profits and lawsuits instead.

    Some things just aren’t meant to be monetized. As this article points out, the seat belt or even the vaccine for polio.

    1. Exactly, if you want smart folks to invent useful stuff, you have to give them reasonable protection for their ideas. Vaccines and other medication are extreme examples, monetizing those inventions is a murky grey area – you want people to have access but you have to pay the inventors well enough to incentivise the invention in the first place.
      Sawstop is not quite in that territory, we’re talking about a safety feature on a tool that is used by choice by a small percentage of the population.

    2. At what point do USians who have been injured by tablesaws mount a class action lawsuit against Sawstop on the grounds that Sawstop’s business practices have resulted in blade halting/retracting devices NOT becoming mainstream?

  17. This and HD radio both stinks! How about beams and video sensing instead?
    Personally I hate to use a table saw where the table is not almost twice the size of a full sheet. Move the saw not the stock! That is why they are so dangerous.

  18. Seems simple to me: Bosch should pay a fee, for countries where sawstop patents apply, and sawstop should accept a reasonable offer from Bosch.
    How is this complex or confusing? The patent clearly covers Bosch’s system and there is no grey area.

  19. Reddit is “monkeys eating their own dung” so I’d not consider any discussion there are a reflection of the truth. As for the actual question, no it is not a form of patent trolling, it is a form of “disruption” that strategy that is so popular now with companies controlled from the USA where they go into a market segment and destroy it completely in some way so as to be able to tap into the revenue streams that previously they were not competitive enough to access. So in some ways it is worse, it is economic colonialism.

    1. They have a patent, it describes what another company does too, it simply means the patent applies and is infringed and the company should pay for their use of the patent.
      Colonialism.. now really.
      The only caveat is that the patent holder should allow for a reasonable compensation and not ask for some insane fee. But if I’m not mistaken they already have to do so by law in cases where it’s a universally applied thing that’s hard to avoid.

      1. [Unicode guy] You’ve missed out the important part. Sawstop are trying to have their patented mechanism made a compulsory part of all table saws, using government regulation.

        Bosch et al had the choice to either license the patent, or do without the innovation. This is fair and how patents are supposed to work. But using the law to force them to license it, at whatever price Sawstop decide, is not fair.

        That’s the problem.

  20. Portions of the patent awarded to Gass are probably too broad, but the parts of the patent that most likely that resulted in an a ruling against are pretty damn specific. Perhaps Bosh has an equivalent to David Sarnoff whose policy is that Botch wants to own technology, not license it from those who invent it. The lawsuits against Ryobi are an entirely different subject, where they mentioned to bias the article readers against Gass? The article in reference revels that Anthony lost one lawsuit why wad the plural of lawsuit used? Do I believe Ryobi should have lost lawsuit? No, I’m just concerned about the quality of Hackaday articles. When I attend high School this sort of writing would result in a failing grade. Thing is if Gass only required a token >$100 fee for each machine their would be manufactures who not not pay that. The mark up at the retail end where is most of the cost for merchandise we pay. Don’t expect retailer not to to hive you break from not profiting from whatever Gass would charge. In industrial settings the safety feature should b mandatory to protect those who earn a living by using the machine. should they be made mandatory at the hobbyist level? IMO no. Here in the USA we have been conditioned it’s reasonable to Expect an ever growing increase in welath, something we had inherited from the Europeans that created new settlement in the “new world”. Gass isn’t fundamentally different that the manufacturing or retail sectors. So I not going to single him out for being “evil” or fault him for not releasing control of what he created. He is not in the same position Diamond matches was when they made their formula for safety matches available I doubt that to every one. Chances are slim to none if a major tool company developed this tech they would give it away to other manufactures to use. In case you have,’t heard slim left town a long time ago. I doubt very few reading this article would send Gass 5 bucks if the machine they purchase contained his safety feature royalty free.

  21. Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door… ? No not here.

    Build a mousetrap and then lobby the government to mandate it’s usage. Who cares if it’s actually better or not.

  22. To my way of thinking, “patent troll” is not quite the title they deserve. They have actually gone and developed and marketed products that implement the patent.

    A true patent troll would just sit on the patent and demand payments.

    Is the asking price too high? Well the market seems to think so. I’d argue a severed arm will cost a lot more, many people are fully aware that the machine could take your arm off, and act accordingly. Just because it has some wiz-bang feature that will drop the blade if it detects flesh, does not mean it will do that in all possible circumstances, so it is better to lull yourself into that false sense of security. It doesn’t make the feature worthless … but one does have to wonder if perhaps they are asking a little too much.

  23. You do not buy a sawstop because you want a quality tool. You buy a sawstop because you are a school or a hackerspace (not a woodworking business) that is terrified of lawsuits. I have never seen a personal shop equipped with a sawstop, probably because the care of using a saw well comes before the desire to spend big bucks on the saw. There are plenty of home shop guys with saws much more expensive than the sawstop and the reason they didn’t buy one with the safety feature is they have no need for the gimmick. You only need this expensive and really annoying technology if the object of your saw is to figuratively give a monkey a revolver, which hackerspaces and schools do. No one I know wants one of these, and several people I know who use them always use them in ‘bypass’ mode to disable the feature that will destroy your nice carbide blade that would happily go through a nail if not for finding itself inside a big chunk of aluminum. Check the manual, metalized plastics and even treated or damp wood could set that thing off, no thank you. Now, I might consider buying a Bosch one that is not nearly as terrible to use if I were truly allergic to quality tools or had no desire in maintaining a nice old Oliver.

    1. My home shop has a brand new sawstop commercial cabinet saw. Its as good as any other saw, and costs about the same. The only thing which would have convinced me to buy another brand would be if it was made in the US. Unfortunately, there are literally zero saws made in the US anymore.

  24. It’s interesting reading about this… then thinking about my $200 tinkertoys unenclosed laser engraver… even it’s puny 500mW beam is capable of instantly blinding a careless user…

    I’m not impressed that every emergency stop will cost you a blade plus a re-arming kit. Seems like the first draft of an idea, not a fully commercialized concept. But I guess it’s all cheaper than litigation…

    Maybe they need 8% per machine to pay for all the blades, bearings and motors they trashed while developing the product ;-)

  25. This is just some anecdote on the web, but I knew a guy who actually worked in the industry in the early 2000s and I was surprised when he had a story to go with seeing the sawstop “hotdog” demo video. According to him, they (and other manufacturers) absolutely wanted to license the technology, but the licensing fees were ridiculously, unreasonably high — and the inventor wouldn’t budge. In his opinion the guy was just in a different reality, he wouldn’t budge an inch. Not a *single* toolmaker took them up on their demanded terms. Apparently, Bosch even thought it was cheaper to try to develop their own, instead of simply paying the demanded royalty. Anyway, it seems that with not even a single taker for their tech, SawStop have decided the way forward is to petition and lobby to have them required by law, instead.

    I honestly wonder whether the inventor ever lies awake at night thinking “…WTF am I doing?”

    I mean, he never ~wanted~ to be in the tool business; he just wanted to license his idea and move on with his life. Instead, he has spent over a decade mired not only in litigation but also literally running a tool manufacturing business. For a guy who never wanted to do any of that stuff he’s spent over a decade of his life devoted to exactly that. What a nightmare.

  26. Without knowing all the details, I’d say that Bosch used a different solution for a known problem, which is quite common to avoid patent fees, and pretty legal.

    But I don’t feel sorry for Bosch, as they’re patent trolls themselves, and have ruined many small companies.
    They’re just getting some of their own medicine.

  27. I’m currently developing a product in an area where there is a company that has a bunch of patents basically crippling the whole industry. They are not developing their own products at all. We asked them how much they wanted to license the patent and the wanted a COMPLETELY unreasonable license fee (I don’t remember if it was 10% or 30% for each sold unit). And these are systems that cost at least 10k USD for the very cheapest ones and up to 10 or 20 times that price for the more expensive systems. We ended up using another solution (which they actually also had patented, but their patent is written in such a way there is huge loop-hole in it) which you would never actually use, except if someone has a patent of the good solution.
    I believe that patents are in theory a good idea. Of course an inventor should get paid for their work and not having other companies steal their idea. But I think that you should be required to either develop and sell products based on your patent or at least develop it further. Or license it at reasonable fees. If you only sit on your patent, you should be forced to release it.

  28. Shouldn’t they have done a cross-licensing deal, so that SawStop would get to use Bosch’s improvement? Failing that, such safety-related patents should have government-mandated reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing.

    Meanwhile, everyone please remember:
    USE THE BLADE GUARD WHENEVER POSSIBLE! It reduces the chance of flesh contacting the blade. If it’s too hard to get the guard on and off, re-engineer it or use an overarm guard.
    USE THE RIVING KNIFE OR SPLITTER! It reduces the chance of kickback, where the back of the blade grabs the work and throws it toward the operator.
    USE A PUSH STICK OR BLOCK! It keeps your precious digits farther from the sharp fast-spinning things. Applies to jointers and router tables as well as table saws.
    DON’T WORK TIRED OR RUSHED! If you read accident stories on woodworking forums, you’ll find a good percentage of them cite being tired or in a hurry as a factor leading to the accident.

  29. Patent # 5191935 (expired)/ Table saws/ Fixed or STATIONARY fence then slide the table,( reverse of the norm.T-FENCE ) Pure Dead Simple, Manufacturers of job site saws, WHEN their fence system exits the envelope of the table top, the fence is attached or FIXED to the telescoped rails, This is a copy of the Original Jimmy Jig’s technology , All Job site saws have this extension incorporated. Now we are talking about copy cats. They are all at it, David and Goliath syndrome. credit where credit is due.slainte mhath

  30. The crux of this issue is SawStop’s use of government legislation to force purchase of their product. I don’t agree with this method, but it is widely used. If we want to go this route then the use of government legislation to limit the cost of this product is equally fair(it’s for the public good). IE the government will set the rate SawStop may charge for use of the patent, and cost of the brake device.
    This whole debate will end soon as the patents expiration date(s) are soon approaching.
    The whole excessive licensing fee debate sounds like a jilted lover. Every company he approached rejected the idea, and now they will pay. (rejection totally predictable)
    None of the companies bought it because if they adopt it they admit their old design is “unsafe” and they must buyback ALL old saws or face lawsuits for leaving defective products in use.
    what if health insurance companies started saying they will no longer pay for injuries while using non-SawStop table saws? If you wish to be covered a rider and additional charge can be added to your policy. Why should others pay for your behavior? All activity involves risk but if a new development can reduce that risk why not use it? Same goes for seat belts.
    For busness/industrial/educational use of a SawStop is a no-brainer.
    If I were buying a new cabinet saw; SawStop definitely.

  31. The problem is big companies generally can out legal, wait out, out advertise and otherwise clobber true innovation from the small private inventors of the world. They didn’t want to pay the inventor for a real cool and first of its kind safety feature that also made all the other products they had made or are making seem faulty for not having such safety systems/features and once a major mfg used the safety stop invention all others could appear to be negligent and open to VERY large and Highly publicized law suits effectively forci8ng the use of the feature or ending saw mfg. for companies making saws. So they sand bagged the invention and all was good till the guy started selling his own line of saws with his safety feature on them, now they have to appear to be as safety conscious as this upstart or face suits and bad press, do they adopt his system and pay royalties?? Of course not! they try to make an end run and accomplish the same effective safety but avoid his patent by making modifications to the concept such as sensor or brake mechanics.
    As to the use and idea of being a required feature for school shop saws I think that makes great sense, protecting young people just learning to use such dangerous machines is a excellent idea, and if folks at safety stop were thinking on all cylinders they would underwrite the costs or the difference in costs for school shop saws because when we are exposed to a feature or safety idea when learning a subject we then expect and want the feature or concept ever after, such as learning to use a seat belt in drivers education, it becomes normal and automatic, safety glasses when in a shop also a high school shop rule that became instinct when on plant floors for me ever after that exposure. What a great marketing tool!
    Also why only saws in shop settings why not in lumber mills, food slicers and similar situations ? also the aluminum block that stops the blade what about a plastic / rubber type substitute or Kevlar fiber like work pants for chainsaw protection, still same stopping but blade survives and cost to reset after a incident is less.
    When someone has a better mouse trap they deserve to be paid the inventor was not a patent troll he actually had a good idea, the submarine patent practice was more under handed and a patent troll just files patents without really making anything with the plan to profit from “infringement” on one of thousands of inactive unused patents set like booby traps or land mines only making profit when litigated but not from license .

  32. It is simple really.
    If they infringe on his patent, then they owe him money. If they find a way to do something without infringing on his patent, then they do not owe hm any money. He can sue them to make his case in court.
    Simple.
    :)

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