logos
SawStop and Bosch Tool
A new SawStop cartridge (left) and one that has been destroyed (right) while engaging with--and stopping--a blade.
David Frane A new SawStop cartridge (left) and one that has been destroyed (right) while engaging with--and stopping--a blade.
The Bosch safety mechanism just after the arbor has been released and the blade dropped below the table.
The Bosch safety mechanism just after the arbor has been released and the blade dropped below the table.
The dual-sided cartridges used to drop the Bosch blade below the table will cost $99, or about $50 per activation. The one on the right has already been triggered. The one on the left is ready to go.
David Frane The dual-sided cartridges used to drop the Bosch blade below the table will cost $99, or about $50 per activation. The one on the right has already been triggered. The one on the left is ready to go.

Since the year 2000 SawStop has been at war with the companies that belong to the Power Tool Institute over their refusal to license SawStop’s safety technology. Until now, the battles have been waged over product liability, regulation by the CPSC, regulation by the State of California, and alleged violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. But with the scheduled release of the Bosch REAXX table saw later this year, the struggle has entered a new and unprecedented phase, the phase where a competitor directly challenges the validity of SawStop’s patent claims by introducing a table saw with a safety system of its own.

On July 16 SawStop and its parent company filed complaints with the International Trade Commission (ITC) and the United States District Court in Oregon, claiming the new Bosch saw infringes their patents. These legal maneuverings, if successful, could prevent Bosch from bringing the REAXX into this country and/or force the company to pay as yet unspecified damages for patent infringement.

In a July 16 press release (complete text at the bottom of this page) announcing the lawsuit and ITC complaint SawStop states:

After years of denying the need for active injury mitigation technology on table saws, Bosch has announced that it intends to release a table saw that incorporates numerous inventions developed and patented by SawStop. As part of the lawsuit, SawStop is asking the ITC to exclude Bosch’s infringing table saws from entry into the United States, and to order Bosch to stop advertising and selling infringing products in the United States.

I asked the PR person who represents Bosch if the company wanted to comment and received the following response:

At Bosch, we protect our intellectual property (IP) and believe in the rights of other companies to protect their IP.

"The Bosch REAXX™ Jobsite Table Saw is based on patented innovations done by the Power Tool Institute with advanced development conducted by the engineering team at Robert Bosch Tool Corp. in Mount Prospect, Illinois. 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

That the actions of SawStop might prevent consumers from buying Bosch’s new table saw is not in dispute. In the complaint filed with the ITC SawStop requested several forms of relief, including two that would prevent the importation, advertising, and sale of the REAXX. Those requests were for the ITC to:

(c) Issue a permanent limited exclusion order directed to products manufactured by Respondents, their subsidiaries, related companies and agents pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 1337(d) excluding entry into the United States of certain table saws incorporating active injury mitigation technology and components thereof that infringe one or more claims of the Asserted Patents;

(d) Issue a permanent cease and desist order pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 1337(f) prohibiting Respondents, their subsidiaries, related companies and agents from conducting any of the following activities in the United States: importing, selling, marketing, advertising, distributing, offering for sale, transferring (except for exportation), soliciting United States agents or distributors, or aiding and abetting other entities in the importation, sale for importation, sale after importation, transfer (except for exportation), or distribution of table saws incorporating active injury mitigation technology and components thereof that infringe one or more claims of the Asserted Patents;

Simply put, SawStop is asking the ITC to prevent Bosch from bringing the REAXX into this country.

Based on their statements I would characterize the arguments of Bosch and SawStop as follows (my words, not theirs).
Bosch: We hold legitimate patents on the safety technology used in the REAXX table saw and have the right to sell it in the U.S.
SawStop: No you don’t. Our patents trump yours and you’re stealing our intellectual property.”

It will be up to the ITC to determine the merits of SawStop’s complaint with that body. SawStop made similar arguments in the suit it filed in Federal Court in Oregon. It will be up to a judge or jury to decide on the merits of those.

While making their arguments, both companies seek to put themselves in a favorable light. Bosch doesn’t talk about having a right sell the REAXX, it talks about defending “consumers’ rights to buy” it. And in its press release SawStop portrays itself as an American David fighting a German Goliath:

SawStop has invested millions of dollars developing inventions to protect woodworkers from serious injury,” said Dr. Stephen Gass, SawStop’s President, “and those inventions have been awarded patents. Patents are the cornerstone of American innovation, protecting the work of inventors from unauthorized use. A foreign corporation like Bosch, who takes advantage of the American patent system by filing multiple patent applications every day, should respect the patents awarded to others instead of relying on its size and financial resources to disregard those patents.

It’s true, SawStop is headquartered in the U.S. and Bosch is headquartered in Germany. But Bosch’s power tool division has a large U.S. footprint and thousands of U.S. employees. And neither company’s table saws are produced in this country; both the SawStop portable and Bosch REAXX are made in Taiwan. There can be no arguing, though, about the relative size and power of the two corporations. SawStop LLC is a small privately held company and Robert Bosch GmbH is a global giant. Whether that tips the odds in Bosch’s favor is anyone’s guess.

For more on the table saws and safety systems from SawStop and Bosch see:
SawStop Jobsite Table Saw
Bosch REAXX Table Saw
Bosch Takes Aim at SawStop
Tested SawStop Jobsite Table Saw
SawStop v. The World
SawStop Suit Stopped: Tool Companies Escape With Only a Nick

Full Text of SawStop’s Press Release

SawStop Files Lawsuits at U.S. International Trade Commission and U.S. District Court to Protect Its Inventions

Tualatin, OR — July 16, 2015 — SawStop, LLC, the world leader in table saw safety, today announced that it has filed complaints at the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court in Oregon against Robert Bosch GmbH of Germany and its subsidiary Robert Bosch Tool Corporation to stop infringement of SawStop’s patented inventions.

After years of denying the need for active injury mitigation technology on table saws, Bosch has announced that it intends to release a table saw that incorporates numerous inventions developed and patented by SawStop. As part of the lawsuit, SawStop is asking the ITC to exclude Bosch’s infringing table saws from entry into the United States, and to order Bosch to stop advertising and selling infringing products in the United States.

“SawStop has invested millions of dollars developing inventions to protect woodworkers from serious injury,” said Dr. Stephen Gass, SawStop’s President, “and those inventions have been awarded patents. Patents are the cornerstone of American innovation, protecting the work of inventors from unauthorized use. A foreign corporation like Bosch, who takes advantage of the American patent system by filing multiple patent applications every day, should respect the patents awarded to others instead of relying on its size and financial resources to disregard those patents.”

“We are proud of the difference our table saws have made in the lives of woodworkers,” said Dr. Gass. “SawStop saws have already saved thousands of woodworkers from serious injury. And although Bosch is one of the world’s largest companies with billions of dollars in annual revenue, we will vigorously defend our patent rights.”