The U.S. Supreme Court in June rejected a request by Black & Decker Corp. and other major tool manufacturers that it review a Fourth Circuit decision reviving an antitrust lawsuit accusing them of conspiring to boycott SawStop LLC’s table saw safety technology, according to Law360.
In a one-sentence order, the court denied a petition filed by Black & Decker, Robert Bosch Tool Corp., Makita U.S.A. Inc. and several other toolmakers, all members of the Power Tool Institute (PTI).
Separately, SawStop has proceeded with action against Robert Bosch GmbH of Germany and its U.S. subsidiary to block import and sale of Bosch Reaxx table saws. In July 2015, SawStop filed complaints at the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court in Oregon. That action is still working its way through the courts.
Recently introduced in the U.S., the Bosch Reaxx 10 table saw provides what it calls an injury-mitigation Active Response Technology platform, which delivers a rapid drop of the saw blade below the tabletop when it detects human flesh coming in contact with the blade.
Similarly, each SawStop saw stops and retracts the blade on contact with skin. Both saws are designed to minimize saw-related injuries and the costs associated with them, but SawStop has declared its patents have been infringed upon with the release of the new saw in the U.S.
In contrast, the PTI objects to the way that SawStop has been using its patents to influence the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission that would make SawStop technology mandatory in future saws and effectively shut out safety alternatives. The PTI website states “At one Bosch Reaxx table saw time SawStop approached table saw manufacturers offering to license its patent portfolio technology demanding an 8 percent royalty on the retail value of all table saws with the technology in addition to other terms that were onerous and not related to table saw safety. This would have resulted in millions of dollars being paid to SawStop.
“Since the SawStop technology was introduced in 2000, no manufacturer has been successful in licensing SawStop. If the Commission were to require SawStop technology on table saws, there can be no assurance that SawStop would willingly license technology on reasonable terms.”
SawStop’s federal antitrust suit adds that the PTI group attempted to get Underwriters Laboratories to not include SawStop technology as a safety standard.