NYT article on possible U.S. mandate of SawStop technology in new table saws


Von

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https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/30/upshot/table-saws-safety-cost.html

I have a love/hate relationship with how we have implemented patents and I find this situation annoying.

If I were buying my TS today, I'd probably get a SS. Don't know if/when I'll overcome the inertia to replace mine - honestly, I just don't want to spend the time learning the foibles of new saw, which I know is silly. And of course, I don't think I'll make a mistake :-/

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The CPSC has been working on this since 2011 and it has been evolving and revised several times. As far as I’m aware, no regulation has been put in place as of now. They have extended the deadlines at least a couple times, and there have been plenty of concerns submitted regarding SawStop’s patents, impact to cost and price of table saws, and more. 
 

I haven’t read the linked article, but it seems like every 6-12 months someone publishes an article about this with a lot of assumptions.

 

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Can't read it paywall.

This is one of the major reasons i don't like sawstop. The inventor is bitter and wants to screw over all the companies that turned him down when he tried selling the tech (conjecture evidence to follow).

When a better option came around instead of making his own system better he sued his competitor into oblivion over technicalities. The Bosch reaxx system was just better in every sense. So don't listen to his arguments that he "Just cares about the safety for the working man".

If he cared about safety (and probably profit too) this system would be in every decent table saw sold today through a licensing agreement.

I don't think the legislation will go through until there is a valid competitor is out there and they won't effectively hand sawstop a monopoly.

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On 4/1/2024 at 9:15 AM, Mark J said:

Can you give us a brief synopsis?  You have to subscribe to read the article.

Sorry, forgot about that.

In a nutshell, it's about the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission considering a mandate for SawStop technology again, as it has for apparently the last 20 years. The article discusses table saws as the largest source of injury in the shop. SawStop apparently tried to license to other companies at first and when that didn't work developed it themselves and became very litigious, so at this point other companies haven't been able to develop their own version (Bosch is given as an example of someone SS sued).

Quote

SawStop was founded by a patent attorney in 2000 and at first did attempt to license its finger-detection technology to other companies. After that failed, SawStop petitioned the safety commission in 2003 to require finger-detection systems on all table saws — the type of rule the commission may soon approve.

So, in my words, it's a Catch-22. Unless someone figures out a way around the SS patent and the CPSC mandates something like the SS safety a requirement, it basically hands them a monopoly since they have the patent. 

Quote

But the Power Tools Institute, an industry group, has said rival companies won’t be able to start development before SawStop releases the patent, because SawStop could sue the companies for using the patent in prototypes.

 

On 4/1/2024 at 2:01 PM, Mark J said:

I didn't think the inventor owns the company any more.  Wasn't it sold to Festool? 

I think that's true but the article doesn't mention it.

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6 hours ago, Mark J said:

I didn't think the inventor owns the company any more.  Wasn't it sold to Festool? 

Yes sold to the company but got hired to lead the saw stop division essentially.

5 hours ago, Von said:

it basically hands them a monopoly since they have the patent. 

I think they are smart enough to realize this which is why cpsc haven't made a decision.

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The founder’s actions certainly tell a different story than his words about their goals for and mission. He is the one that initially prompted thr CPSC to consider this.
If their main goal was truly to make woodworking safer, they would have made (reasonable) licensing deals a decade ago, opened their patents for widespread usage, and/or not gone after companies developing similar but different safety mechanisms.

Other companies, who stand to make significantly more money off their patents, sometimes make their patents free to use when they actually want to serve the industry or field. Tesla is an example of this, they made all of their patents free to use (though we all know that Elon is a wacko).

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During related hearings last month I think it actually came out that SawStop licensed their patents to Bosch shortly after the Reaxx thing. Bosch was legally free to sell the saw again, but evidently decided not to do so. Conjecture is that the phantom activations observed by several reviewers (possibly due to EM interference) were a larger issue than Bosch thought they would be and they were unable to work around them and decided not to relaunch the saw despite having the license to do so.

More relevantly SawStop already dedicated to making their patents public if this goes through back in February. There's been a pretty strong anti-sawstop campaign from the entrenched sawmakers since Gass was first shopping this tech around and had reached his agreement with Ryobi before they got pressured out.

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My understanding is that Sawstop is willing to drop their broad patent on the general idea of stopping a saw when it senses flesh, in exchange for a government mandate requiring such a feature.  But, they are not dropping their patent on their specific technology.  So, other companies are free to develop a different way to do the same thing, and until they do, SawStop will have a monopoly.

 

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Drop the broad patent or all patents, their actions still speak louder than their words. I get that it's a big issue to us but come on we're spending money and time on this with all the other issues in the world? The number of finger tip amputations from table saws (2,500/yr) is a drop in the bucket compared to other factors (45,000/yr) anyway. I know more people that have cut off the tip of their finger quilting than woodworking.

The really interesting part is reading source 2 in how many of the serious injuries are benchtop saws and saws where the current safety devices are not used. I don't see this legislation reducing injuries on saws with the technology to zero. Too many contractors are going to turn it off because they need to get the work done and they don't have a backup blade/cartridge. One reason why I like the bosh system so much more. It's not a major inconvenience if it activities. Too bad they scrapped it if the above is true, I'd buy a cabinets saw with that tech in it tomorrow.

Source 1(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7317129/)

Source2(https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/Draft Notice of Availability Table Saw Blade Contact Injuries Special Study Report - 2017 - November 14 2018.pdf)

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I have been following the SawStop saga/trials and tribulations since about 2003. From what I have read and from watching the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) hearings:

SawStop unsuccessfully attempted in the late 1990’s to license the technology to the saw manufacturers. The manufacturers claimed the fee was too high; SawStop said it was within the normal licensing fees. Neither side has released the amount they wanted or offered. The manufactures offered various and sundry reasons for not adopting the the technology, but one was their claim the technology could not be adopted to the economical job site and similar saws without being priced out of the market. Seemed such saws were/are the majority of their sales. 

As for the SawStop/Bosch issue, read Bon Pacific’s post.

SawStop did agree to release the patent technology if the CPSC adopts a timeframe/requirement to implement it. During the last CPSC hearing I watched, one of the commissioners asked the manufactures’ representatives since becoming aware of this technology circa 1999 and the inability to license it, what measures/research and development have they done to implement such a system. The manufactures association representative could not, would not answer, or said she didn’t know. Watching the hearings it was obvious that the commissioner put her and manufactures “on the hot spot.” In other words, they have not done anything or very little. 

As for SawStop releasing their patent, I understand that patent covers the heart of system. Others claimed that SawStop needs to release other patents without identifying exactly what are those patents
 

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