While SawStop officials applauded a U.S. International Trade Commission decision blocking the import and sale of the Bosch Reaxx saw, Bosch officials are still holding out hope that presidential review will reverse the ruling.
Concluding a lengthy investigation, the ITC on January 27 ruled that the Bosch Reaxx saw violates two patents held by SawStop for technology designed to protect users from accidentally being cut by the saw. The ITC issued a cease-and-desist order banning Bosch from importing or selling the saws as well as any supporting parts in the United States.
Dr. Stephen Gass, SawStop’s president, commented on the Commission’s decision: “When Bosch chose to introduce the Reaxx saw in disregard of our patents, they left us with no alternative but to take action in court. We have defended our innovation, our hard work, and our investments in developing SawStop technology, and we are pleased that the ITC ordered the exclusion of products that use our patented inventions without a license and confirmed the strength of those patents. We are grateful for the U.S. patent system for encouraging and protecting innovations and we look forward to continuing to supply the market with safer saws.”
Responding to questions from Woodworking Network, Bosch officials still held out hope the decision could be reversed. “Robert Bosch Tool Corp. is very disappointed with the ITC’s decision,” said Linda Beckmeyer, manager of media and public relations for Robert Bosch LLC. “We now enter the 60-day presidential review period, in which we hope the president will review the facts of the case and then veto this exclusion order.”
The President’s International Trade Representative has 60 days to ratify or reverse the decision.
Both the SawStop saws and the Bosch saws are designed to protect users from accidental contact with the blade. They both sense contact between the blade and flesh. Once contact is detected, the SawStop saw instantly drives a spring loaded block of aluminum into the blade to stop its motion while simultaneously dropping the blade below the saw table. The Bosch saw does not stop the blade rotation, but it uses a powerful gas cartridge to instantly propel the blade below the table and out of harm’s way.
Beckmeyer defended the Bosch Reaxx saw and criticized SawStop’s efforts for trying to block it from the market. “Bosch maintains that development of its professional table saw product respects other companies’ patents and represents a new and unique technology in the construction market,” she said. “It is disappointing that a competitor is continuing its campaign to stop the sale of Reaxx technology to consumers. We believe that advanced Reaxx safety technology does not violate any competitor’s intellectual property rights. The patents asserted against Reaxx are based on applications filed more than 15 years ago; Bosch does not believe they apply to Reaxx technology. In addition, Bosch believes that if the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had complete information, it would not have issued certain patents in the first place.”
The two SawStop patents that the ITC found Bosch violated will expire in 2020 and 2022.
Beckmeyer went on to say, “It is our firm belief that the development, marketing and distribution of the Reaxx Jobsite Table Saw is completely separate and distinct from anything other brands or manufacturers are doing. At Bosch, safety is a priority. We will work to defend consumers’ rights to buy our products.”
Where this leaves U.S. consumers who have already bought Bosch Reaxx saws remains to be seen. Neither Bosch nor SawStop officials have responded to questions about potentially licensing SawStop patents to Bosch or any possible support for existing Bosch Reaxx customers. The Bosch Reaxx saw is sold in the United States by Robert Bosch Tool Corp. of Mount Prospect, Illinois, a subsidiary of Robert Bosch GmbH of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany.