SawStop Files Lawsuit Against Bosch Over Patent Infringement For Flesh-Sensing Table Saw Tech

According to allegations raised in a lawsuit recently filed by the makers of SawStop, a flesh-sensing technology used to prevent accidental table saw injuries, the power tool manufacturer Bosch intends to steal their technology and use it in a line of new table saws.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by SawStop, LLC in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon on July 16, presenting claims for patent infringement by Robert Bosch Tool Corporation and Robert Bosch GMBH.

SawStop manufactures and licenses a safety technology for table saws, which senses when the saw is too close to a human finger and automatically shuts down the blade.

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The blade has a sensor system similar to technology used in touch lamps, which detects electrical conductivity of the human body. At the slightest touch of human flesh, it instantly stops the table saw, which typically destroys the tool due to the speed at which the device shuts down. However, the operator of the table saw is saved from suffering an amputation or catastrophic injury, typically only receiving a slight nick from contact with the blades.

According to the patent infringement lawsuit filed by SawStop, Bosch announced in March that it intends to release the Bosch GTS1041A REAXX, a bench top table saw with flesh-sensing technology that retracts the saw blade when it detects that it has begun to cut flesh. The complaint alleges that the saw uses patented SawStop technology to do so, and infringes on numerous SawStop patents.

The company has asked the court to prevent Bosch from violating their patents in the future and to compensate SawStop for its losses.

Since the introduction of SawStop technology, a number of manufacturers have faced table saw injury lawsuits filed by individuals who allege that they may have avoided severe injuries if the manufacturer had licensed and implemented the technology, or warned about the lack of the safety feature on their product.

Despite the effectiveness of SawStop in preventing table saw injuries, many manufacturers have resisted licensing the technology, maintaining that it would raise the price of table saws and that safety features already standard on most table saws provide adequate protection.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently been pushing for new table saw safety standards, which most predict would include the use of flesh-sensing technology like SawStop.

According to the CPSC, there are about 76,100 table saw injuries annually, based on 2007 and 2008 numbers. The injuries cost a total of about $2.36 billion per year, and leave about 3,000 people a year with an amputated finger.


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