SawStop Antitrust Lawsuit Gets Supreme Court Boost

The maker of flesh-sensing blade brake technology on saws will continue its lawsuit accusing other saw makers of conspiring to boycott its innovation

June 29, 2016
SawStop saw blade, Photo: courtesy SawStop

Photo: courtesy SawStop

A June 20 Supreme Court action allows SawStop corporate parent SD3 to continue its lawsuit accusing saw makers of conspiring to boycott its table saw safety technology.

The one-sentence order rejected a petition to reverse a lower court ruling that permitted SawStop to sue Black & Decker and several other members of the Power Tool Institute. The Institute has advocated against efforts to require SawStop’s flesh-sensing blade brake technology on saws.

In the petition filed in January, toolmakers argued the Fourth Circuit ruling applied too stringent a standard to SawStop’s claims that they planned to boycott the technology. They also claimed that SawStop’s technology was “commercially unproven,” and that the company’s royalty demands were unreasonable.

SawStop marketing vice president Matt Howard declined comment, citing ongoing litigation. A Bosch spokeswoman called the Supreme Court action "just one step in the process" and said "our case continues to be vigorously defended in the trial court." Other manufacturers named in the lawsuit have yet to respond to our request for comment.

SawStop first filed suit in February 2014, claiming that manufacturers had colluded through the Power Tool Institute not to license SawStop’s technology, which stops and retracts a table saw’s blade after detecting contact with a person. The lawsuit also says the manufacturers tried to block Underwriters Laboratories from including include SawStop technology in its safety standards, instead proposing a lower UL standard that would limit their exposure to product liability claims.

Defendants include Black & Decker, Robert Bosch Tool, Makita U.S.A., Hitachi Koki USA, Milwaukee Electric Tool, One World Technologies, Ryobi Technologies, Techtronic Industries North America, and Pentair. 

Read Pro Remodeler's cover story about flesh-sensing technology on table saws.

About the Author


About the Author


David Weissman is associate editor for Professional Remodeler. dweissman@sgcmail.com

Comments

I read in an article from one of my woodworking magazine that Bosch has come out with a similar blade stopping process that is cheaper where the mechanism can be used again for a second time.  But, the best part of the Bosch mechanism is that the process does not destroy the saw blade like the SawStop process.  For a fine woodworking person using a $400 blade, that could be a better choice.  The article noted that Bosch is getting ready to launch this in their contractor's line of table saws.  Could this just that someone else has come up with a better mouse trap rather than a boycott?  Could this lawsuit preventing Bosch from selling its saws?

I don't think there is any question the SawStop technology is excellent.  Without getting into a protracted discussion about the cost savings of an injury vs the cost of the SawStop tools... it seems there is a clear "bullying" of SawStop to force the industry to accept it's high price technology.   When the industry rejected SawStop originally SawStop chose the American way and developed their own brand and made it available to the public.  In a free market economy we can all choose how to spend our dollars...   SawStop's higher priced equipment or higher insurance costs.  SawStop makes pretty nice tools and they get very good reviews.  My friends who own them love them... but manufacturers of competing saws shouldn't be forced to purchase the technology.  Let the consumers decide. 

I think everyone is familiar with the original Ryobi lawsuit which settled in favor of the consumer.  All of us familiar with the case also know the consumer disabled nearly all of the safety devices provided with the tool in use and was also using it in an unsafe manner.  The SawStop safety device can also be disabled to allow cutting of material with moisture content higher than the tool allows... do the math.

Pro Remodeler's article The Cutting Edge: A Look at Flesh-Sensing Technology in Remodeling took a look at the Bosch technology as well. Scroll down to the headline "Another Approach," to learn more about the Reaxx Jobsite Table Saw. 

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