SawStop's lawsuit against Bosch Reaxx ended in SawStop's favor, with Administrative Law Judge Thomas B. Pender ruling. The lawsuit has been based on patent infringement since Reaxx was first released.
Editor's note: This story contains all information we received as it became available and reported by Pro Tool Reviews. Read from the beginning to see the story in its entirety, or skip to other sections as you see fit.
Table of contents
- Some History of the SawStop vs. Bosch Reaxx Litigation
- Power Tool Association Controversy
- Differences in Table Saw Protection Methods
- judge's decision
- SawStop's reaction
- Robert Bosch North America Litigation Reaxxion
- Potential fallout from SawStop vs. Bosch Reaxx lawsuit
- patent infringement
- the bottom line
- Updated: January 27, 2017 – The final nail in the coffin for the Bosch Reaxx?
- Updated: 2/07/2017
- Official Response from Robert Bosch
- SawStop Official Response
- Last updated: March 23, 2017
Some History of the SawStop vs. Bosch Reaxx Litigation
The Bosch Tools table saw lawsuit actually came before Bosch created its own flesh detection table saw solution: the Bosch Reaxx table saw.
SawStop was developed and patented by attorney and "avid woodworker" Steve Gass. He came up with an idea to make a table saw (or any chainsaw) safer for the user who accidentally came into contact with the blade during use.
What happened next is a bit controversial. Mr. Gass is trying to seek legislation through the Consumer Protection and Safety Commission to make his patented technology mandatory . This apparently comes after his proposal to license the technology to manufacturers has seen little support. Sometime around June 2006, in response to Gass' petition, CPSC engineers recommended that the government begin a "rulemaking process." This could lead to mandatory safety standards for table saws. The agency's commissioners then shocked the power tool industry by agreeing to Gass' recommendation.
At the CPSC meeting on May 8, 2007:
“Mr. Schiech said that if the Commission issued mandatory rules, it would be extremely difficult for the industry to comply because of the patent constraints on sensor technology. Ms. Weller pointed out that the Commission does not mandate design requirements…if it did anything, the Commission would issue performance requirements, Companies are free to meet it in any way possible, including with sensors, or with new guards or any other improvements that the industry is currently considering. ”
CPSC meeting on May 8, 2007
The Power Tools Association (which is made up of many major tool manufacturers) strongly opposes the concept of mandating such safety devices on products like table saws.
Between the 8% fee and the additional hardware cost, the cost of your typical $400 jobsite saw could add up to around $625. Your entry-level table saw is all but gone. We're not sure how much this will be welcomed by consumers who like to keep themselves safe.
The real controversy has to do with legislation that would set a precedent to mandate any technology that improves the safety of dangerous power tools. This seems inevitable, as liability issues will force this reality through insurance rates and the possibility of litigation. Furthermore, the potential for unintended consequences is enormous. These include that manufacturers may stop producing more dangerous products or make compromises in other areas (quality) in order to meet the price demands of adopting that particular technology.
On top of that, when it comes to table saw safety, PTI states that kickbacks pose a greater danger, causing far more injuries each year than amputated fingers. New advancements have now been implemented through the UL Approval Guidelines (new in 2010) to incorporate these safeguards.
PTI details its specific issues
PTI cites technical and practical/financial issues that mandate the use of SawStop technology. These include:
- PTI estimates the additional cost for manufacturers to implement the technology at $150-200 per product. This amount is passed on to the consumer.
- Gass (SawStop) is asking for a license fee/royalty of 8% of the wholesale price of each saw. Many manufacturers see this figure as bordering on extortion and monopoly status. This cost may be passed directly on to consumers.
- "False Positives" or "False Positives" can result in downtime and charges. False positives can show up on common materials such as wet lumber (think pressure-treated lumber just delivered).
- Nuisance trips require expensive brake mechanism replacement (~$59)
- A false trip requires the saw blade to be replaced. Why? Carbide teeth may vibrate or come loose – dangerous. As most pros know, blades can cost upwards of $100 each.
- Carbide teeth may pass through the blade opening during braking.
- The existing Underwriters Laboratories document ANSI/UL 987 includes provisions for maintaining a safe distance from saw blades. They also include instructions for proper use.
- 'Court is out' over how high-impact braking mechanisms will affect small job site table saws.
- Consumer choice can determine whether the technology, and its associated potential problems and increased costs, will be widely accepted by consumers
- Of the 30,000 (US) table saw injuries each year, only a small fraction are due to contact with the saw blade. Most occur due to kickbacks.
Differences in Table Saw Protection Methods
There are significant differences in the way the two companies approach table saw safety. The Bosch Reaxx uses airbag-style cartridges to flush the blades under the tabletop. This happens as soon as conductance (meat) is detected. The blade is able to keep spinning during the descent without damaging it. You can see our top hit and front hit test results on our YouTube channel and I got my hands on the blade.
SawStop technology is a safety feature on table saws that detects when there is physical contact and stops the blade immediately. This happens so quickly that the user is left with only a small nick where the skin meets the blade. SawStop uses a different mechanism to lower the blades, but also uses aluminum detents. In our tests of top and frontal impact, the Sawstop Jobsite saw blade stopped with less damage to the user's hand than the Bosch Reaxx table saw.
At the trade show, a SawStop representative represented a finger with a hot dog and demonstrated how the saw cut through wood and stopped as soon as it touched the dog.
Watch Kenny stop the spinning table saw blade with his finger!
Despite the apparent differences in application and results of the two saws, Judge Pender argued that there were similarities beneath the surface that indicated infringement.
"Based on the foregoing, it is my preliminary determination that, when imported into, marketed for import, or offered for sale into the United States, Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, 19 USC § 1337 importing into the United States certain employing active injury mitigation The table saw technology and components thereof are related to the claims claimed in US Patent Nos. 7,895,927 and 8,011,279.
U.S. International Trade Commission, Investigation. No. 337-TA-965
As you might expect, Dr. Stephen Gass is pleased with the results. He had something to say after the ruling.
"The technology in the SawStop saw would not have entered the market without the protection afforded by the U.S. patent system. We have invested millions of dollars in research and development to protect woodworkers from serious injury. Our invention is covered by multiple patents. Bosch disregards We chose to launch the Reaxx saw because of our patents, and we had no choice but to defend our patents in court. We are delighted that Judge Pender has confirmed that Bosch infringed our patents."
Dr. Stephen Gass, President, SawStop
Robert Bosch North America Litigation Reaxxion
"While Bosch typically does not discuss the details of litigation as we believe it is best dealt with in the context of legal proceedings, we have seen statements in litigation regarding the Bosch REAXX™ construction site table saw that give the impression that they are misleading.
Currently, legal proceedings are still ongoing. The International Trade Commission (ITC) will review the administrative law judge's preliminary determination dated September 9, 2016 and the parties' additional arguments before making any decision on the matter. The committee is not expected to make a decision until early January 2017. Contrary to any other suggestion, patent legal proceedings are ongoing and not final.
The Bosch REAXX construction site table saw is based on patented technology developed by the Power Tool Institute and the engineering team at Robert Bosch Tool Company in Mount Prospet, Illinois. We trust that advanced REAXX security technology will not infringe any competitor's intellectual property rights.
Robert Bosch North America, September 2016
Discontinuation of sales of Reaxx technology
Disappointingly, competitors are continuing their campaign to stop selling the patented REAXX technology to consumers. Patent claims against REAXX are based on applications filed more than 15 years ago; Bosch believes they do not apply to REAXX technology. Furthermore, Bosch believes that if the USPTO had complete information, it would not have issued certain patents in the first place.
Bosch vigorously defends and will continue to defend its ability to sell REAXX table saws in the United States. In addition, Bosch will continue to file patent infringement lawsuits against competitors in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
The ongoing litigation has no impact on dealers' ability to buy and sell Bosch REAXX table saws. REAXX elements, accessories and service parts are available. Bosch's commitment to providing users with safe products is crucial today and in the future. "
Robert Bosch North America
Potential fallout from SawStop vs. Bosch Reaxx lawsuit
A victory in this particular SawStop vs. Bosch Reaxx lawsuit could have serious consequences for Reaxx owners. Not only did SawStop stop the import and sale of Reaxx, but the sale of the cartridge as well. This means that Reaxx owners will not be able to replace the cartridges. This is the required component to use. Of course, Bosch will try to make sure that doesn't happen, but that will ultimately be decided by the courts or by a settlement between the two.
So, is the Bosch team a bunch of bad guys hiding in secret, reverse engineering the SawStop table saw to develop the Reaxx?
not necessarily. The physics involved in detecting leaf conductance are fairly simple. While there are many ways to design a system that can detect physical impact, conductance is one of the easiest. Since the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, you can bet the game's engineering design took a similar path to the one SawStop took when it first developed the technology.
Think of it like an equation. One starts with a theoretical equation and solves it (Can a table saw detect and respond to flesh?). Once a theory is proven to be fact, others follow suit. Once it is known that it can be done, people are likely to follow the same path. "If a table saw can detect flesh, how do I make it work?"
While this is a natural process, it is also the reason our inventions are protected by US patent law. There's no need for someone to copy what we make (although it does happen). However, if their process leads to too many similarities, it is an infringement. We can bet this won't be the last SawStop vs. Bosch Reaxx lawsuit. We will keep an eye out for further news releases.
the bottom line
The latest SawStop v. Bosch Reaxx decision favors SawStop. The end result was the cessation of the import and sale of Reaxx saws and parts. More litigation will have to take place before any firm conclusions can be reached. The results will determine the future of Bosch safety table saws.
For more details on SawStop vs Bosch Reaxx, Clint DeBoer and I break them down in a video after testing both saws.
Updated: January 27, 2017 – The final nail in the coffin for the Bosch Reaxx?
The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued a limited exclusion order against Robert Bosch Tool Corporation and Robert Bosch GmbH. This more or less prevents them from selling Reaxx saws or parts for Reaxx saws in the US. Additionally, they issued a cease and desist order against Robert Bosch Tools. They also terminated (closed) investigations on the '836 and '450 patents. SawStop withdrew its allegations against the patents.
Not all of Sawstop's claims have proven valid. On September 9, 2016, the ALJ issued its final preliminary ruling. They found that the '927 and '279 patents violated Section 337. They found that the '712 and '455 patents did not violate Section 337.
But there are still two patent infringements. This was enough for the ITC to issue a final decision banning Reaxx (saws, parts and cartridges) from the United States under a cease and desist order.
Here's the final nail in the coffin, according to the ITC's own ruling:
The Commission has determined that the appropriate remedy is a limited exclusion order prohibiting the entry of table saws incorporating active injury mitigation technology and components thereof that infringe claims 8 and 12 and claims 1, 6, 16 and 17 '279 Patent, and Order of Robert Bosch Tool Corp. to Cease the Importation, Sale, Marketing, Advertisement, Distribution, Offer for Sale, Transfer (except for Export), or Solicitation of U.S. Agents or Distributors of 2 Imported Table Saws, Containing Voluntary The injury mitigation technology and components thereof infringe claims 8 and 12 of the '927 patent and claims 1, 6, 16, and 17 of the '279 patent.
The Commission has determined that the public interest factors enumerated in section 337(d) and (f), 19 USC § 1337(d) and (f), do not preclude the issuance of a limited exclusion or cease and desist order. The Commission has determined that binding at zero percent of the entered value is required during the presidential review period, 19 USC § 1337(j). Commissioner Keefe dissented from the determination of the bond and wrote separately explaining his views on the basis for the issuance of the cease and desist order and the determination of the bond. Investigation terminated.
The Committee communicated their orders and opinions to the President and the U.S. Trade Representative on the date of publication.
More information in the SawStop vs. Bosch Reaxx lawsuit offers hope for Bosch fans and owners. First — and this is a key point — the ruling has entered a 60-day review period. During this period, there will be no changes to Reaxx sales, deliveries and repairs. Lawyers for both sides will have the opportunity to digest the results and seek a way forward before the ruling goes into effect.
Second, Reaxx owners can breathe a sigh of relief. The ruling does not affect Bosch's ability to manufacture and sell activation cartridges in the United States. This is another important point. Even after the current cartridge expires, Bosch owners can keep their saw in safe condition.
While the ruling does state that Bosch cannot sell parts for Reaxx, note that it is specific to two patents. Namely, those involving detection systems. That means all the other parts that make the saw work can still be produced and sold. The failure of a single gear doesn't mean your saw is now hit.
Official Response from Robert Bosch
"Robert Bosch Tools is disappointed with the ITC's decision. We are now in the 60-day presidential review period and we expect the President to review the facts of the case and then veto this exclusion order.
Bosch insists that its professional table saw products have been developed respecting the patents of other companies and represent a new and unique technology in the construction market. Disappointingly, competitors are continuing their campaign to stop selling REAXX technology to consumers.
We trust that advanced REAXX security technology will not infringe any competitor's intellectual property rights. Patent claims against REAXX are based on applications filed more than 15 years ago; Bosch believes they do not apply to REAXX technology. In addition, Bosch believes that if the USPTO had complete information, it would not have issued certain patents in the first place.
We firmly believe that REAXX Jobsite table saws are developed, marketed and distributed completely independently of anything other brands or manufacturers do.
At Bosch, safety is a top priority. We will work hard to defend the rights of consumers to buy our products. "
Robert Bosch North America
SawStop Official Response
"When Bosch chose to launch the Reaxx saw in defiance of our patents, they left us with no choice but to take action in court. We defended our innovation, our hard work, and our investment in developing SawStop technology, We are pleased that the ITC ordered the exclusion of unlicensed uses of our patented inventions and confirmed the strength of these patents. We appreciate the U.S. patent system for encouraging and protecting innovation, and we look forward to continuing to bring safer saws to the market."
Dr. Stephen Gass, President, SawStop
Last updated: March 23, 2017
As the 60-day waiting period draws to a close, Bosch is assuring its customers:
"Bosch maintains that its professional table saw products have been developed to respect other companies' patents and represent a novel and unique technology in the construction market. However, under current legal proceedings before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), Robert Bosch Tools will Ordered to cease sales of REAXX table saws on March 27, 2017, unless the ITC's ruling is overturned. Sales will be suspended until Bosch can clarify next steps through the ITC's appeals process.
Resellers who previously purchased REAXX table saws from Bosch are not affected by the ITC order and can continue to market and sell REAXX table saws to end users.
Bosch will continue to provide dealers and end users with service/repair and support for previously purchased REAXX table saws, including providing replacement blades made in the USA that are not subject to the ITC import ban.
We will continue to fight our ability to sell REAXX in the future by appealing to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Background: On January 27, 2017, the ITC issued an injunction against the importation of REAXX table saws into the United States, with a 60-day window to overturn the ruling, which is closing soon.
Robert Bosch North America