The new Bosch Reaxx table saw, with flesh-detection technology, has been delayed. You might have already assumed as much, given its original Fall of 2015 launch expectations.
This doubt could be due to the ongoing SawStop vs. Bosch lawsuit.
I reached out to a Bosch media contact, to see if there was any updated, and all they are able to pass on is that the saw is “Expected [to launch] in 2016.”
From what I can tell, the saw’s technology is different enough from SawStop’s to avoid infringement, but that’s based solely on what I’ve read. I’d need to study a few years of law, re-review SawStop’s patents, and break both brands’ portable saws apart, and I still might not know for sure.
Hopefully we’ll see the Bosch Reaxx saw in coming months.
Infringement Lawsuit Readings
I spent about some time last night, trying to see if there were any public updates about the infringement case.
There’s not much I learned about the current case, aside from Bosch’s official response to the original complaint, directed to the United States International Trade Commission (PDF here).
It was actually helpful for me, to read more about SawStop’s history, and re-reading the complaint, I can’t say I blame them for filing the suit against Bosch. Whether or not Bosch is found guilty of infringement, it seems that SawStop had no choice, if this part of their complaint is fully accurate:
Shortly after SawStop released its Jobsite Saw, it learned from potential
distributors that Proposed Respondents were intending to sell a competing table saw with active injury mitigation technology into the bench top market this fall. As discussed below, Proposed Respondents have demonstrated this saw at domestic trade shows and on the internet, and offer it for sale through a distributor, although it is not yet in stock for purchase. SawStop has repeatedly heard dealers say they are not going to offer SawStop’s Jobsite Saw and instead wait for the forthcoming saw from Proposed Respondents because of Proposed Respondents’ dominant presence in the power tool market. See Exhibit 17.
(Bold emphasis is my own.)
If true, dealers not carrying SawStop’s offering to save space or buying power for Bosch’s saw would have cost SawStop not only lost sales, but maybe even the R&D they did in designing the new Jobsite Saw.
Maybe it was a “sue or lose anyway” situation as SawStop’s portrayal of the situation suggests.
There are other interesting tidbits to the case, with one more accessible document found in this list, such as a request by Bosch’s counsel for the US International Trade Commission’s Judge to deny SawStop’s counsel’s request for paper copies of their prototype saw’s source code and electronic copies of files that describe what it all means.
Bosch’s response seems to be “hey, you could inspect it anytime you want, but no way do we want you to have hard copies of our source code and algorithms!”
Table Saw Injury Lawsuits
In looking at other lawsuit documents unrelated to this infringement case, I found many instances where injured parties made arguments that a saw was negligently defective because it lacked SawStop-like flesh-detection and blade-stopping technology.
SawStop’s Stephen Gass’s name comes up sometimes, and there is an expert witness, Darry Robert Holt, whose name also comes up a lot.
In the lawsuit documents where Holt was an expert witness brought forth by the defense, there are all kinds of opinions and discussions about how SawStop or SawStop-like technology might have helped prevent injury. Pretty much everything Holt says is challenged by defendant tool brands.
In one case, the saw blade’s height was raised to 2″ to cut 1/4″ board material, but the focus of the case was on whether the blade guard design was defective or flesh-detection technology could or should have been available. In that case, kickback had unfortunately led to contact with the saw blade and traumatic amputation of several fingers.
Here’s a list of documents for that case, a long reading about Holt’s expert opinion to it, and a following brief which makes me wish I had a bowl of popcorn and full access to the documents and transcripts of that case. That document says things like:
While Bosch has no intention of suggesting any conspiratorial relationship between Plaintiff’s counsel and Mr. Holt, the fact that Mr. Holt has been retained by Plaintiff’s counsel in numerous cases and has been paid a significant sum as a result is relevant and goes to Mr. Holt’s bias.
There is a Woodworking and Power Tool Product Liability Case Update (PDF link) by a law firm, and it condenses details about several cases in one place. If you visit no other external link, check out that one.
There’s also a summary of a Ryobi lawsuit, where it says some more about Holt the expert witness:
Although the defendants called him an “expert for hire” whose opinions were “generated solely for the purpose of litigation,”…
There are also references in a couple of cases about Stephen Gass testifying in prior years, but it seemed he refused to testify in more recent cases.
References to SawStop and similar flesh-detection technology has been intertwined in table saw injury lawsuits for years now.
Back in 2010, we talked about Bosch and Ryobi suits. One of the complaints and accusations brought up against Bosch was that:
they colluded with their competitors… to keep those [flesh-detection and blade brake] alternatives off the market.
I can definitely see why Bosch sought to develop their own flesh-detection table saw – they were practically pushed to do so by litigation!
Some of these readings make my head spin.
I don’t quite know what to think about SawStop anymore. They’ve been painted as a bullyied victim and also a lawsuit-happy aggressor in years of media coverage. Maybe if I read more of the lawsuit history, it’ll bring their true nature to the surface.
Who knew there was so much drama?