SawStop, and their owner Stephen Gass, who happens to be a lawyer, issued a press release about their lawsuit against Bosch. They contend that Bosch, and their new ReaXX table saw, which also features flesh-detection and blade brake technology, is infringing on SawStop’s patented inventions.
This isn’t the first time Stephen Gass and SawStop has sued Bosch and other power tool brands. In recent years, they sued 22 companies, including Bosch and other table saw manufacturers, for allegedly forming a secret boycott of SawStop’s technology. That lawsuit was ultimately dismissed.
Here’s what I have read or otherwise found out about SawStop and Stephen Gass over the years:
First, Gass tried to get power tool brands to license their technology, but they declined to. None of the other brands wanted to pay to implement SawStop’s flesh-detection and blade braking technology into their table saws.
Then, since manufacturers wouldn’t license SawStop’s technology voluntarily, Gass lobbied for federal regulations that would force power tool manufacturers to do so. Here’s a post from 3 years ago, after Stephen Colbert ran a report on Gass and SawStop:
SawStop’s Stephen Gass – People Who Are Destroying America
Those forced licensing efforts fell flat, as the regulations were not passed.
Then SawStop sued brands for allegedly boycotting his technology. Sounds ridiculous to me. Hey, because you didn’t pay us to license our technology, we’re suing you for damages. As mentioned above, the suit was dismissed.
Now that Bosch has come out with a competing saw that looks to provide similar end-result functionality – uncut fingers – but in completely different ways, the SawStop litigation machine is at it again.
I’ve tried to be fair, but the more I hear about SawStop and Stephen Gass, the more of a bully and a jerk they seem to be.
In the press release, SawStop’s tone is that of a small company that is being victimized by a much bigger corporation. But is that really what’s going on here?
It’ll be up to the courts to decide whether Gass’s patents are being infringed upon. Patent holders have an obligation to defend their patents – or risk losing them**, but I don’t think that’s quite what’s going on here. It’s hard to say, a much closer side-by-side look at the patent documents and table saw designs is warranted.
**Update: Richard Ahlquist reminded me in a comment below that this is true about trademarks, not patents.
That all being said, if I ever have the space for a full-size table saw, it’ll probably be a SawStop. Maybe. I really wish Stephen Gass didn’t come across as so much of a jerk. There are also downsides to the tech, such as false triggers when cutting woods with high moisture content. Blade brake cartridges are good for one use, and are expensive to replace, as are the saw blades that are destroyed when the brake is activated.
Hmm… if I do buy a SawStop table saw, how much of that money spent will go towards the actual saw, and how much will go towards Gass’s lawsuits and forced licensure lobbying efforts?
But for a portable table saw? I am VERY excited to see the Bosch ReaXX in action. Bosch has a strong foothold in the portable table saw market, one that SawStop doesn’t really have any chance of encroaching upon.
The new Bosch ReaXX saw will have a completely different blade brake tech that will allow for 2 braking events before the cartridge has to be replaced. It also won’t destroy your blade.
See Also: Bosch ReaXX table saw preview | ReaXX video and discussion
What do you think? On one hand I know SawStop is obliged to defend their patent – if they think it is being infringed upon – because you cannot pick and choose which infringements or alleged infringements to protect against.** On the other hand, given SawStop and Stephen Gass’s history, well… I find it difficult to give them the benefit of the doubt.
**As mentioned, this doesn’t seem to be true about patents, only trademarks. Whoops.
I think you are mistaken. Patents are not mandatory to defend, that is trademarks. Patents they could simply let go. Or simply license.
Oh, I think you might be right. Oops. I’ll look it up later, just to be sure.
Yeah, if you don’t defend your patents and then one day you do decide to go against someone who is infringing on your patents then all they have to do is show that you have been negligent in defending your patents before then. There is substantial precedent here. Your initial article is correct. The update/correction is unnecessary.
If you don’t defend your patten, later down the road people can use that against you when it truly is being infringed on. This happens ALL the time in the tech world. I don’t know why people get so mad about tool companies doing the same. It’s part of business.
+1 if you don’t keep up with a renew your patent then you’re allowing free use of the invention. There are however somethings that have a finite life – medicines and safety devices happen to be 2 that I know of off hand. the life limits of the patent vary but they do have limits.
And again, we see that SawStop isn’t about safety, it’s about MONEY.
I am probably going to get some heat for this, but oh well. I agree with the last part of your post.
To survive companies must care about profit and I can’t fault them for that. When this does become an issue is when quality, working conditions are ignored to increase profit. You don’t see nearly the amount of imported products being recalled as USA or European made items.
Personally I am in favor of the Saw Stop position in this case. Is this money driven? Sure. However, there is a bigger picture and this to make table saws safer and to literally prevent losses from those who use these tools.
I’d say Stephen Gass realizes what most need to is that these big corporations DON’T have their customers best interests in mind and as long as the CEO and their shareholders are making a substantial profit, nothing else truly matters. Even if you are a white collar worker, at the end of the day you are no better than blue collars who typically receive the short end of stick anyway.
I am not saying Stephen is a hero or anything, but I do believe he isn’t nearly the bully or jerk he is panned out to be. As he is lobbying for better safety and to actually care about that is much harder than these big corporations and CEO’s make it seem. Anyone put on a fake smile, tell you are special and they love you and even make it seem they truly care about you when all they really care is about profit and how they can increase this.
Not every company operates this way, but most do. Very little can be done to change that model given how much people buy into the fact these big corporations care at all about and all the lies come along with this.
If he really only cared about safety, wouldn’t he offer his technology to other companies, or at least laud Bosch for coming up with technology of their own?
If Bosch really did steal his technology, he should of course sue them.
Who knows? It just seems like this isn’t just about safety.
Stan – I fully disagree. Gass’s goal, from day one, has been to invent AND CONTROL a “core technology”. He believes his flesh sensing patents are air-tight and cover any and all possible methods of achieving flesh detection. Even though the 2nd part of Bosch’s technology is totally different than SawStop’s, Gass wants to control and license the flesh detection part to all manufacturers. That’s why Gass is suing.
It’s about money, not safety.
Ditto. Its easy to see that he is NOT about safety. We have seen his true colors and he is about lining his pocket.
Its insane that people are looking as him and saying that he ‘cares’ about people’s safety.
My dad has been using a table saw all his life and he understands safety. He has never lost a finger, and he has taught me about safety.
To force someone to use your technology because you claim you are trying to make it safe for everyone, that is ridiculous.
Well – I think it is about safety, but lets be honest here: if we invented cold fusion in our backyard would you just give it away for free? Some would, and some would not. Now – big energy companies come in and take your free technology and start using it and distributing that power making boatloads of money.
Still interested in giving it away [for free – oops…] so that other companies can make millions/billions off your ideas? I imagine that number is much much less now.
How many great ideas do most of us come up with in a lifetime that can provide some economic stability as well as do good for society? I would say the majority is zilch. For a very few its one, and for even less its a few.
While I don’t care for bullying, I have seen corporate hostility for many years. The guy invented a great piece of technology. He tried to get *every* saw manufacturer to adopt it and they all refused either for his licensing costs, legality concerns or their lack of returns. He aggressively patents it and builds his own saw company, which is having pretty good success. Now Bosch comes along because the idea is proven marketable and will get “their own idea”. That saw is basically a 4100 ($400) with a $1000 markup for a ‘sawstop’ device… are you telling me thats what the markup would have been if they had licensed the sawstop stuff? Whats the reason for not just licensing it now?
Think that all through before casting Gass as some sort of evil money grubbing warlord. These companies clearly put money ahead of safety long before he did and now they are trying to take advantage of all the work and risk HE incurred. I don’t own any of his gear (laughably, I have a Bosch 4100) or even know the guy… but I can see easily where it got to this point.
I’ll have to disagree, slightly, since I don’t know the man.
But he came up with a safety feature previously thought impossible. What if auto makers decided not to install air bags or seat belts ? Isn’t it a requirement ?
Aren’t there companies making additional money because of this requirement?
It’s pretty complicated I’m sure, but I guess I don’t demonize the man.
Volvo shared their 3 point seatbelt design with all other automakers, for FREE. They didn’t try to force the other makers to pay licensing fees.
Comparing Volvo to SawStop is anywhere from disingenous to downright idiotic. Or both.
Volvo: The largest industrial company in a thoroughly socialist 1st World country, with tens of thousands of employees, multiple product LINES, exploding markets and well established brands.
SawStop: a brand new maybe company with NOTHING to differentiate them from any of the companies already in the marketspace EXCEPT for their patented technology, no products and a shrinking market.
Simply put, Volvo could AFFORD to give away the technology, and it’s quite possible that, given the socio-political situation in Sweden at the time, they may not have been able to afford NOT to give it away.
how about a much better example.
Jonas Salk GAVE AWAY his polio vaccine which has been estimated that he gave away Billions (with a B!) of dollars. Do you know how much of an empire he could have had?
There are definitely people who care about people’s lives, Gass is NOT that man. His actions speaks louder than his words.
Your argument is weak if you are saying he cares about safety.
How come you don’t own sawstop? How come you don’t tell all your friends to get one?
Thats because people are allowed to make their own decisions and its silly to FORCE people to use your technology by actually trying to get a regulation passed.
Did you see that Colbert report? He makes a lot of interesting point, see if you can refute those.
Jonas Salk: http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2012/08/09/how-much-money-did-jonas-salk-potentially-forfeit-by-not-patenting-the-polio-vaccine/2/
Well said – If you care you share – something my 5 year old son understands. This guy is just an assh0le who wants to make insane amounts of cash through seeming to “care” about our safety.
A bit late to come back but I wanted to anyway. Its my understanding that the SawStop works by detecting fluctuations in the electric charge placed on the blade, a bit like a touch lamp, something that has been around for decades.
Capacitive and resistive touch surfaces are nothing new. They have been used for a long time to turn things on and off.
SawStop I believe doesnt just kill power to the blade but also uses a brake, something also not new.
One of the important things in the patent process that is oft overlooked is the idea has to be Not Obvious and/or not an obvious connection of two prior technologies. A patent that is an obvious progression or combination of simple parts should not be granted a patent by their own rules, but it happens sometimes.
Saws have had brakes before SawStop I would bet. Not my field but willing to bet you a doughnut. So the only thing innovative here is the switch that activates the brake. But is it? If SawStop gets a bit too big for their britches I am willing to bet some large global saw manufacturer will take this patent to court and they may either loose it, or go bankrupt.
I’ll have to side with SawStop on this one.
Since you brought up the comparison with the auto industry, there is a precedent I believe with the seatbelt and Tucker’s automobile.
The seat belt was first patented in the 1880s and was not accepted by auto industry until the 1950s. They were resistant to add them, since it would mean automobiles were in some way unsafe.
Tucker’s auto came up with other safety innovations, but in 1949, due to negative publicity initiated by the news media, a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and a heavily publicized stock fraud trial (in which allegations were proven baseless in court with a full acquittal). Speculation exists the Big Three automakers and Michigan senator Homer S. Ferguson also had a role in the Tucker Corporation’s demise.
Safety features are not money makers until someone has them and you don’t. SS has a right to defend their marketshare. If you put that much time and money into a product, you would want paid for your effort.
I think this mirrors the tool companies and SawStop. They did not want to pay him for his ideas and now they are loosing sales and don’t like it.
On a side note, I’m buying a SS this week in part due to the brake, but also because the saw is very well built. It’s about the same price as Delta cabinet saw.
I don’t equate all consumer protection laws. Some are useful to prevent unexpected consequences. Some are unrealistically intrusive. I think most table saw users are aware the blade will cut off their fingers, and have enough sense to know it, and therefore are capable of deciding whether the cost is worth the benefit.
Three times in my life my fingers (or hand) has come into contact with a table saw blade. I have one scar, but no other damage.
If you’re interested… lightly bumping the spinning blade with light pressure feels just like bumping something. Shock is felt next, then blood starts flowing. Then I get the blood away from the wood, so as not damage it. Then I assess the finger damage. In all cases the finger still worked normally. In one case, I had a bandage on for 3 weeks. My guess if you are pushing hard enough with, say a dull blade, an unwaxed saw table, or warped wood, you could be applying enough force to push a finger through the blade, causing the loss of the digit. I have a friend (military surgeon, no less) who did that on a cheap saw.
I also know lots of carpenters who still work fine with a missing finger or two.
The remnants of the finger still hurt most of the time, but they get used to it.
Well, I’ve been searching for a well made tablesaw lately and I’ve seen a lot of fuss about how the SawStop saws were well made but honestly, I have zero interest in a saw that ruins blades and burns up expensive ‘cartriges’ to maybe save a finger.
After reading your article, there’s no way I would buy a SawStop now. I’ll probably just continue to hunt for a nice vintage US made ‘unsafe’ saw.
Honestly, that’s there part that conflicts me. From all that I heard about SawStop’s legal andb lobbying activities, I don’t want to give them a dime. But from what I’ve heard about the quality of their tools, not to mention the flesh-detection aspect, they’re in my short list of saws to buy if I have the space (and budget).
Someone just needs to finally license David Butler’s Whirlwind design and get it into mass distribution. It doesn’t infringe on Gass/SawStop’s patents (neither does Bosch, by the way), it is completely non-destructive, and it works on a wide range of hazardous tools. I’ve said many times that Craftsman is the obvious choice here, as they already have distribution set up and it would be a very smart move for them to make their brand relevant again. Even better if they set up to actually them in America. Probably won’t ever happen, but it would be a very smart move.
I need a new table saw. The Bosch is a great design but I need a cabinet-style/grade saw, not a jobsite saw. (Though I would have LOVED to have had theirs when I was working jobsites.) I’m certain it is no accident that Bosch introduced their Reaxx technology with a jobsite saw when SawStop didn’t have a jobsite saw. Then rumors started to circulate because of field tests of the Bosch (while negative feedback circulated about field tests of the SawStop jobsite saw for quite a while) and SawStop had to hurry to get theirs to market. I really hope that Bosch expands the lineup to more serious saws. I am on their list of guys to field test products and get feedback and all that (just last month a couple of their guys came and talked to me and others in our shop about their power tool accessories), but I can’t get them to say a word about whether or not it will be in any other saws any time soon. Not even when I threatened (well, bluffed) that I would give up and buy a SawStop if I didn’t know a Bosch would be coming.
Ditto for me: I don’t really want to patronize a company that plays this way. On the other hand, there is a good reputation, and while I am wiling to take the risk of a conventional saw for myself, I wonder about what I will want in my shop when my kids are old enough to start learning to use tools.
I recently learned that Jimmy DiResta started using a bandsaw when he was something like 12yo so now he has ~30yrs of bandsaw experience.
Personally, I think a bit of heathy fear of power tools is good. If you learn to not fear losing fingers, you will get careless.
And you realize Jimmy cut his pinky off on a table saw, right?
Honestly, I never noticed. Maybe he should have stuck to bandsaws? 🙂
I think his earleir efforts – trying to mandate usage then suing for collaboration (which WOULD have been illegal, had it occured & he proven it) – were dick moves.
That said: This stroy bites a bit harder for me:
“You refused to licence my safety technology, fought my efforts to make it industry standard, and now, *magically* you have developped a product that does the exact same thing? The same thing you said wasn’t worth licensing a few years ago is now your flagship product? Really?!?”
Not sure how the patent suit will play out, but Ryobi certainly is benefitting from him educating the consumers and creating demand for this kind of product. I can see why he’d be angry.
Competition is good. Stifling innovation is not.
It’ll be up to the courts to determine whether Bosch is infringing of not.
But you know what? I bet Bosch was planning for this suit from the start. I don’t think they would have come out with the saw if it at all infringed upon SawStop patents.
On the other hand, Bosch may very well have been developing their own finger saving technology, completely independently of SawStop. If that were the case, they obviously wouldn’t care to pay a licensing fee for something they were developing on their own. Im going to wait out the suit before I decide on this one. If SawStop didn’t already have a frivolous suit on the books, I’d be much more sympathetic to their cause.
The SawStop is also my favorite and I do agree that Gass comes off as a bully. The brake cartridges are only $69 on the saw though and there is the test feature that allows you to cut your wood without the stopping technology on, that way you can see if the particular lumber will set the saw off. I have actually had several people using Freud blades that set off the saw and there blade was just fine. The brake is aluminum and is pretty soft so if you have a good blade it might just survive.
On a side note, there is a great video of the Bosch going off early in a demo and SawStop just ate that up saying how terrible Bosch’s saw must be!
Another thought: I am working on equipping a student shop at our University, and there is basically no way we can choose anything else (imagine trying to explain after an accident?) I am glad there are people here who have good things to say about the quality of the tool itself, but I am still ambivalent about the company.
In particular, the marketing materials from SawStop left a bad taste in my mouth. They feature a case study that suggests shop managers request a new SawStop (even if current equipment is perfectly useable) and, if refused or questioned, to demand a response in writing from the administration justifying the decision. Note the truly masterful bit of testimonial advertising copy in the form of a quote from a shop instructor who did this. First, he reports that “Within a few hours, I had approval to buy two new SawStops” so you see how efficacious this is. He follows up with a little shot of fear to get you motivated, explaining “I wanted to protect myself from any liability in case of an accident.” Finally, he brings it home to the bottom line, noting that this approach “turned out to be a pretty good way to get funding.” Even if we ascribe the best possible intentions to the instructor’s actions, I think that SawStop sharing this particular story and quote is a pretty coercive way to drive sales.
I’m conflicted about Sawstop myself. I was amazed at the technology when I first saw it, and I was sure that was what I would eventually buy. The steep price for a cabinet saw was out of my range though. So I started saving up. I also heard some of the stories about the lobbying for mandated safety using his technology and started to have some doubts. But I never dug into the actual facts of the case to find out exactly what happened. When they came out with a sawstop contractor version I went immediately to the store to check it out with the intent to buy it that day. I was underwhelmed with the quality of the fence and it’s horrible alignment on the demo unit I saw. So I held off.
Once I heard about the Bosch version of a contractor saw that doesn’t ruin the blades or put the blades at risk. I knew I would prefer that one in addition to the growing dislike I had for Sawstop’s alleged business practices. Sawstop seems to have gone a bit heavy-handed in their fear mongering videos. In some aspects they seem to overplay the risk of human/blade contact and overlooking kickback which can also cause injury (albeit less dramatic injury). The fence on the sawstop portable that I saw in the store was so poorly aligned it was a recipe for kickback. (Sure I know when you buy a saw it is your responsibility to properly set it up, but as a demo in a store I would expect it to be at least in decent alignment just from an eye-ball perspective).
So I am still on Bosch’s email list and when their contractor saw comes out, I will be getting one as soon as it is in the store.
Smaller business like Sawstop in comparison to Bosch really have a lot more riding on their reputation, and in my opinion Sawstop has some work to do in that area. (Carefully worded to avoid angering any zealous lawyers. Please don’t go after me…)
We do a lot of repairs at my work on table saws and I am yet to see even 1 SawStop come in for repair. I have seen a lot of repairs on other saws, both full size and jobsite. Not buying from a company because of how they conduct business is important but weighing the risks of the alternative should also be considered. I do not buy from WalMart because of how they do business and the repercussion is that I have less money in my bank account from buying the SAME product elsewhere for a higher price. The drawback of not buying SawStop, is that it is not the same as the others, and accidents do happen. My father put his hand through the table saw and it was terrible. It was an accident on an old saw that was caused by a lack of safety features (anti-kickback).
SawStop as a company is a good thing. They employ a lot of Americans for design, production, and sales. This is much more than the competition where the saws are designed and assembled over seas and they only have sales people in the U.S.
I do still give credit to those who stick to their guns in matters of company conduct as a deciding factor in purchasing products. Many people talk bad about the automotive bailouts yet they go out and buy a GM product, not even considering how many pensions were robbed from the employees of GM alone, while simultaneously giving the board members more money.
“We do a lot of repairs at my work on table saws and I am yet to see even 1 SawStop come in for repair. ”
I worked for a nationwide DIY workspace, where SawStop saws are used. I don’t know of any instance where one has broken, although I wasn’t aware of every tool failure at every location. The members in those places are not easy on tools, and I’m familiar with the ones that broke repeatedly.
I am impressed with the quality of SawStop products, and would consider one if I was in the market for a cabinet saw. However, I hate their business practices.
I work at a college and regularly take woodshop classes. The college has only three SawStop cabinet saws, the one I believed to be the oldest and most used had a failure of it’s electronics that control flesh-detection that prevented the saw from starting and running for a few weeks last spring, while waiting on parts. I also believe it has been serviced a few other times.
You bring up some interesting points Jimmy. I have looked forever on craigslist hoping to find a second hand (sorry no pun meant) Sawstop and have never seen one listed in my area. So I can only assume that the quality is good and owners don’t want to part with them. Even being the new player I would still expect to see them occasionally, but that is not the case so owners must be hanging on to them tightly. A low return/repair rate is a great selling point.
I am new to woodworking as a hobby, but I knew a co-worker that had literally mangled his hand in a woodshop accident. It wasn’t a table saw, I think it was a drum sander. After nearly a year of therapy and skin grafts he had about 75% usage back in his reconstructed right hand. He was a very experienced and knowledgable woodworker who simply had a brief moment of distraction at the worst time. So for me as a newbie, I know i really want the extra value of the safety of the Bosch or Sawstop portable table saws. Right now those are the only two players in that field and I think they both have good points and they will both fill my needs.
In the end I think I am still leaning toward the Bosch mostly because of the less destructive way it appears to work. I will of course refrain from my final decision until I get a chance to see it in action and get a better look at it up close. And then i will also take one last final look at the saw stop before parting with my hard earned cash.
Thanks for you comments, I appreciate that you took the time to respond in a thoughtful and respectful way even though you might not agree with my reasoning it is appreciated.
Competition is good. It keeps prices in check and stimulates innovation. Bosch is a multi-billion dollar global company with plenty of lawyers. I doubt highly that they infringe any Sawstop patents. It simply would not be worth the risk to develop and go to market. They probably now have a better mousetrap. Sawstop should re-direct their efforts into improving theirs.
The instant I saw the Bosch announcements about their new saw – I was pretty certain that there would be lawsuits. I’m not concerned for Bosch – they are “big boys” and can take care of themselves. What does bother me is that the Bosch offering – may now be withdrawn from the US market – and that IMO is not in the public interest. Many power tools can be dangerous – and table saws may lead the pack – especially for those who operate them with inadequate training and disregard (or ignorant of) what they need to do to operate them safely. Even with proper training, attention to safety etc. – I’m reminded that some wood can be a challenge to cut – and a kickback event can have serious consequences. If the Sawstop Cabinet saw had been available when I was considering a Powermatic but decided to buy my Unisaw in 1976 – I think it would have been my choice. Although – back then even a European saw with a riving knife was not readily available to me. What I did do was to buy the Unisaw with a sliding table – which over the years I consider being a good decision – making many operations safer.
When I was still working for a living – we were considering what to do with our tablesaws – and if any should be replaced with a Sawstop. Our business had a very good safety record – and we wanted to keep it that way. When the newer jobsite saws came out with riving knives, anti kickback pawls and better blade guards – we replaced all our old units with the updated saws. We had 2 Unisaws that we sometimes took to jobsites – these we kept – because we used them mostly for crosscutting – as we had a dedicated Oliver rip saw with a power feeder.
I was hoping that someone would license the Bosch technology – and apply it to a cabinet saw to give us all another option. And speaking of options – I believe that there is no substitute for adequate training, retraining and safety awareness – where everyone on the job knows that if he or she sees an unsafe practice – they can and must call a time out. Furthermore, if we had a close call so to speak – that was cause for immediate action. Perhaps in some part because of this, I’m happy to say that on my watch – we never sent anyone to an ER because of a table saw accident.
I’ve used regular table saws for decades, and have been using a Saw Stop for about3 years now. I really like the Saw Stop, and think it’s a good saw – even if you ignore the extra safety feature.
That said, I’d have a hard time supporting the company. Kind of like Uber – a great idea, run by jerks.
what disappoints me is that after all of these years… this is only the 2nd attempt at such a device. Love or Hate sawstop, the concept of preventing horrible injuries is one that should be developed.
The bosch mechanism looks superior in every way (assuming it works of course), I would easily forgive false positives with cheap cartridges and no collateral damage. I hope this finally finds its way into another contractor or cabinet saw.
Back in the old days he would have given it to one company (with a kick back) and charged others a license fee .
Talk about money over safety, the companies that turned him down did so because they would have to had raised prices and would no longer been competive.
No easy answer.
It’s always about money, seriously, it’s always money.
After all I have read, both companies have developed safety technology that are design to keep users as safe as possible. Same end goal; different systems. I prefer Bosch’s because you can keep moving forward after an ‘accident’.
I was disgusted when SawStop lobbying Congress to force all manufactures to license their technology. All I can say is ‘TORT REFORM’!
Gass missed a BIG opportunity to be lauded as the inventor and champion of a new generation of saws. Instead, he will go down in history as a patent troll with a superiority complex.
The smart move would have been to allow all saw manufacturing companies to license the tech for FREE, rather than selling his own brand of saw and trying to force other companies to use it in their products. That way, they will jump to implement it in their first-gen versions of the tools, and all subsequent versions will be well regarded as evolutions of the original tech. The money would flow in since the inventor would be a very in-demand consultant and advisor in many aspects of the technology, and implementing it in other power tools.
As any engineer or inventor can tell you, companies simply have to come up with a slightly different way of doing whatever it is your patent is for to avoid a patent infringement suit, and chances are very, very good that with the time and money and brainpower they have in R&D, they will not only come up with a different way of doing it, they will probably come up with a better way of doing it.
As far as Bosch goes, look at what the company does with its profits and how the company operates. If anything, it is the least profit-driven power tool company on the planet.
I have little doubt that Gass just came across as a grade-A a-hole and Bosch, along with everyone else, just didn’t want anything to do with such a person.
I wouldn’t buy the SawStop at any price, no matter what. I have little doubt that the tech will only improve and the stuff Bosch makes over the next few years and decades will leave the SawStop in the dust.
As long as Sawstop doesn’t succeed in their push to a government mandate of their proprietary (and apparently litigious) technology, I couldn’t care less what they do.
And SawStop turns retarded. BOOHOO somebody did a better job than we did and they don’t have to buy expensive replacement parts and a new blade. Thats ok we will still buy if from Europe.
I think Bosch have copied sawstops idea, but just done it difrant, let me put it this way , if sawstop hadn’t brought thir technology to the market , then Bosch wouldn’t have thirs, so I think sawstop is right, sue them .
That’s not a good enough reason to sue. You cannot really patent an idea, only a process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, improvement of any of the above.
If Bosch’s methods are different enough, SawStop has a steep uphill battle trying to convince anyone of infringement.
Stuart, don’t forget DNA. You can receive a patent for DNA.. Sorry, my mistake…that should read ‘widget’. Yeah, you can patent ‘widgets’. Applesauce.
About 6 years ago, after ~35 years of table saw experience, I made the switch to tracksaw; sold the table saw; never looked back. I’m now working quicker, more precisely, safer, and having loads more fun. I didn’t think a woodworker could get along w/out a table saw- till I did the literal “saw-stop”. YMMV.
(Eurekazone tracks, if any are interested.)
ps I wish Bosch the best……..
If I’m counting correctly – next year will be the 40th anniversary of putting my home shop Unisaw into use. I too bought a Festool track saw – and a Domino XL. They have replaced the Unisaw for many tasks – but not all. I still use the table saw for cutting dados, slots, rabbets, ripping thin strips and moldings, tapered legs etc. My tenoning jig is gathering dust and I no longer have to break down sheet goods and then hoist them up on the table saw – but for what I do as a hobby – the track saw is and adjunct not a replacement for the table saw.
I stand behind Stephen Gass and My SawStop! Being the husband of a paralegal of a large manufacturing company, if the little guy patients a product, the big guys will steal the technology, tweak it and the most powerful lawyer wins. And yes judges Can be bought.
I became considerably less interested in purchasing a Sawstop after they lobbied lawmakers to mandate the use of their technology. I wasn’t aware of their subsequent lawsuit alleging conspiracy but it doesn’t surprise me. I guess that’s what happens when a company is founded by an attorney.
Sawstop isn’t the first company to attempt to force other companies to license its intellectual property. About 10 years ago, I vaguely recall reading of an online dating service that managed to obtain a patent for integrating background checks into their matchmaking products. Shortly thereafter, they began to lobby lawmakers to mandate that all online services perform background checks.
Shouldn’t most of the core patents for sawstop be expiring by now? They started selling saws in the first half of the 2000’s and the core patents would have been filed before that.
So when does Bosch plan on coming out with a stationary model that can compete with Sawstop’s cabinet saws? I have no interest in a jobsite saw, but I’d consider getting an equivalent or better of my Ridgid R4512. I’d prefer not to support Sawstop after learning about all their greedy antics.
there are things I don’t like about saw stop and where I see Bosch beating their patent. Saw stop requires you to use ONLY their blade in a pre-assembled cartridge. Now I understand from a physics/electronic point of view why that is – however it’s a simple fix to the design. And they could have gone down the road of after re-working their system – offering to other manufacturers not only use of the patent, but certification of their specific blades to work correctly.
major dollars and long term profits. this idea was even proposed to them early on – they pushed on with our way or the highway and found out quickly that big corporations have more weight to throw around.
Saw stop throws a hissy fit and tries to get regulated into requirement – something that never works out well. so they are where they are today – if they win the patent suit on Bosch – look for Stanley/Dewalt, to bring out their version and win. Because one of them will.
Ok. I have seen mr gass himself (you can find these videos online) state that the technology is like a touch activated lamp. If thats the case then the sensing technology is in fact not his to begin with.
Then on the other hand sawstops stopping cartridge rams an aluminum chunk onto the blade stopping it while it retracts and this done with a spring. Boschs technology is an explosive charge and does no damage to the blade.
I happen to own a 3 hp professional sawstop and have triggered two cartridges. Both due to metal contact. (Staples!!) The sawstop is one of if not the finest table saw made today already. That being said though Mr. Gass is simply trying to hold any and all competition at bay as ling as possible. Its simply business meneauvers just like apple and samsung and microsoft have done for years. Suing one another over patent infingements trying to delay products to market therefore increasing their own market share. They are worried that these more capital rich companies will eventually hurt their business.
This is also a situation where a company rests on it laurels and doesnt improve and leaves the door open to competitors to better on their original ideas eventually surpass them. Sawstop should also already have upgraded their own ideas and have a blade saving tech of their own.
All in all like i said sawstop is elite but i do not agree with Mr Gass balking at competitors competing at every turn. Instead focus and take your own product to the next level
If you follow the correct safety procedures and use the correct guarding etc you take your risk of a workshop injury down to virtually zero. Accidents don’t exist they are all preventable.
I spent many years involved with product safety issues and the development of product standards. Here are some of my thoughts.
It is not uncommon for companies to try to influence the changes to product standards or regulatory requirements to gain a competitive advantage. Sawstop was not the first company to try this and will not be the last. It happens at a company level and also between countries. Country A has different standards than country B in order to protect their markets. Thankfully the standards development and review processes we have in place usually weed these attempts out.
I was very disappointed with the response of main stream power tool manufacturers when the saw stop technology first came out. They banded together to create the Power Tool Institute and spent considerable time and effort trying to downplay the new technology. They argued that the safety statistics related to table saw injuries were not correct. They argued that the flesh sensing technology would not address what they saw as the major table saw danger ie: kick back. They argued the existing standards (riving knives) were good enough. They argued that the increased cost would negatively impact the low end table saw market. Were they concerned about improving safety? I don’t think so. To me it sounded like they were concerned about protecting the status quo and their current market share.
Finally they argued that any table saw related injuries were the result of user error (ie blame the victim).
I would say that most product related injuries are the result of user error (ie people using the product in a way that it is not intended or not in accordance with mfg instructions). The proportion of product failures that result in injuries is quite low compared to the number of injuries that result from “user error”.
I have seen first hand how manufacturers can band together to fight new safety technology (in the area of consumer appliances) even though the same technology was being used in other countries. They made the same arguments as the PTI did.
What Gass did do was prove to the major saw manufacturers that people and companies are willing to pay for high quality a safer table saw. In fact they will pay up to 2 times more for this type of table saw.
No doubt his small upstart company took significant market share away from other table saw manufactures industrial workplace and institutional environments where , given liability, OSHA and workers compensation concerns, you would be crazy not to buy a Sawstop with its safety features.
So why after more than a decade of saying flesh sensing technology for table saws was not needed and that existing standards where good enough did Bosch introduce there own safer table saw? Did they suddenly have a safety epiphany?
More likely they realized that SawStop’s new jobsite saw represented a real threat to their market share and the sale of their own industry leading jobsite table saw.
If the jobsite SawStop had the same impact on the building contractor market segment as the cabinet saws have had in the industrial and institutional markets Bosch stood to loose significant market share and ultimately profit. So they too were likely motivated by protecting their financial interests and decided it was time to jump on the safety bandwagon.
So congratulation to Mr Gass for proving to the mainstream table saw manufacturers that people are willing to pay for safety (even if it is not legally required). In the end the marketplace decided with their purchase decisions and dollars. It turns out that regulation was not needed after all.
So from my perspective Bosh’s decision to introduce a safer table saw is a great step forward and a positive signal for change. Just like other areas of product safety, 20 years from now people will simply take it for granted that all table saws come with some form of technology that helps prevent you from cutting you fingers off.
I note the people opposed to sawstop don’t own one. I own 2. Jobsite and contractor. Used professionally, and I won’t let anyone on a jobsite use another saw.
Everyone loves them, as they are the best saws we’ve ever used. I have something like 8 years of experience with them. A lot of things posted above are just nonsense. Their quality, reliability, and service is off the charts good.
If Bosch has a good patent, they will win. If they don’t, Sawstop deserves to win.
My wife is a hand surgeon. She gets a table saw injury once a week. All experienced users. Fingers sewn back on never heal properly, she loves sawstop more than I do.
I really don’t care if Gass is a jerk. I’m pretty sure steven jobs was a jerk. Most great creators are jerks. I don’t need to live with them, I need to live with their products.
Bob the Handyman
Competition is always good and it will benefit the consumer both monetarily and safety-wise in the long run. I need a new saw and will wait for the Bosch just because they make great products (as, of course, does SawStop). For me, a big plus and the factor driving my decision for a Bosch purchase is that they, unlike SawStop, allow retailers to offer discounts on their products. Frankly, I don’t like it when retailers are prevented from offering deals and when the Bosch becomes available I will search for the best price. Also, it’s possible the long term cost of ownership of the Bosch could be less than SawStop depending on how much you do or don’t get your fingers into the blade. As for the lawyers, I care not a whit what they do as long as the Bosch gets on the market.
I think SawShop is going to lose this. Bosch has a top notch law department, they had to know producing this saw was going to ruffle SawShop’s sue happy feathers, so they certainly prepared for this eventuality and was certain they could handle it before they ever started R&D. Moreover, Bosch’s product is substantially different being able to have two events and not damaging the blade in the process. (Which is probably why all the saw manufactures decided not to license the tech in the first place, because they didn’t feel it was ready where it could only handle one event and worse would destroy the blade in the process.)
Bob the handyman
I was considering both brands of saw as I researched the products, but Sawstop’s actions have helped me decide I will wait for the Bosch and buy it when it hits the stores.
The more I see from Sawstop, and the more I hear about Gass, the more I hate them. The issues with Sawstop’s lack of quality control and their horrendous company in general is why I stay away from that brand at all costs.
I originally wanted a Saw Stop but didn’t need a full size table. I am so glad I waited now that Bosch is coming out with one.
What bothers me most is how Gass has conducted his self and I can honestly say that I will avoid Saw Stop products at all cost now.
Good job Bosch! Always great R&D and product development!
Sawstop has had a jobsite table saw for quite awhile well over a year
It may seem like he’s being a bully but he gave them every chance 2 make a safe tool for people to use and they refused because they didn’t want to pay the money even know it’s worth it in the end. I lost a finger and half the use of my hand in a table saw accident the cost of a cartridge a new blade is well worth having that safety
Duncan said “The issues with Sawstop’s lack of quality control and their horrendous company in general is why I stay away from that brand at all costs.”
Sawstop’s quailty control is the best in the business. My Sawstop is superior in materials and build to any Delta or Powermatic I’ve used. Their customer service is also superior to others…. Never any argument from them and they will go out of their way to make sure you are completely satisfied. It’s tiresome reading rants from people who don’t own one or never used one. By the way.. Try a $14 thousand bill for a missing finger and tell me how much you hate Mr. Gass. If Bosch is so interested in protecting people why didn’t they come out with their saw many years ago?
I consider something truly special in this internet site.
I have a wonderful older (pre riving knife) 3 hp. General 650. Built like a tank and incredibly accurate. It is the one tool in my shop that I thought I would never replace. I’ve been building furniture and cabinetry, shelving and doing custom mill work for the past 25 years. 2 weeks ago, I lost the tips of four fingers and damaged the extensor tendon of my middle finger of my left hand. I was lucky. No question, my fault. No guard, and the board kicked back dragging my hand across the blade. Stupid. I am absolutely to blame for my accident. All my experience and knowledge and for one moment I do something without thinking. I know I’m not alone in occasionally working without a guard in a pre-riving knife saw, and I’m pretty sure that my story won’t do much to change that. Still, no matter how experienced one is, and regardless of whether or not we have the appropriate safety measures fully employed, many of us will eventually do something dumb and just for a few seconds not have our focus where it need be. Even the best guards and safety systems can’t always protect us from ourselves in those few moments we might be distracted at the worst possible moment. I may offend a few here, but to think that one’s experience and shop savvy will be protect them 100% of the time borders on arrogant. Even with proper set up accidents can happen because we are human, and we all make mistakes.
I don’t care what kind of man Gass is or isn’t. I suspect he is neither saint or evil money grubbing entrepreneur. I don’t care about patents or lawsuits. I care about the fact that there is a technology out there that can protect me and others who will not always be entirely 100% focused 100% of the time. I can’t help but think that when people talk about not buying a Sawstop because they hate the inventor or his practices are really denying there own safety over principle. Lose a finger, a thumb….or worse….and then see how you feel about the man.
I doubt seriously Bosch will ever come out with a professional level cabinet saw, so you can probably forget that option. Currently Sawstop is the only game in town. Other companies have the option to either purchase the rights to use the Sawstop system, or develop their own, without infringing on Sawstop’s patents. That’s how it works, and that’s the way it should be. A patent is only as good as ones ability to defend it. If Bosch is using Sawstop’s proprietary tech without permission, then Gass has little choice but to sue to protect his patents, otherwise others will follow and he will be out of business.
Lastly, I’m no fan of corporate ethic. I seriously doubt that in general, consumer satisfaction, safety and convenience is given the weight of consideration that is given to profit margin and maintaining a competitive price point with similar products. That said, as far as the cabinet saws are concerned, I have heard and read many positive comments about Sawstop QC and customer service, at a time where quality and customer service seems to have become a thing of the past for many of the storied brands. It’s Gass’s company, and it runs according to his ethic. He may not be a saint, but he certainly deserves kudos for that.
Will I buy a Sawstop? I don’t know, probably not…I might upgrade my saw’s safety features and hopefully, given improved efficiency and functionality of their design over my current set up I will have the discipline to use them consistently. In that I am human, probably not the best choice. I’ve got custom jigs and all sorts of stuff designed specifically for my current saw. To sell my old friend and start afresh with a new saw would be both a hard loss and a major pain in the butt. For that to happen, the Sawstop is going to have to impress the hell out of me. But one thing’s for sure, I’ll be damned if I’d ever let my opinion, or anyone else’s, right or wrong of a company or its owner affect my decision when it comes to my safety and livelihood. That would be lunacy.