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Company Sued, Loses For Not Using Patented Tech 631

Posted by kdawson
from the giving-consumers-the-finger dept.
bdcrazy writes "A man was recently awarded $1.5M in a jury trial after his hand was injured by a Ryobi table saw. The saw did not include the patented 'Saw Stop' technology that the plaintiff argued would have prevented all the problems." 60 similar cases have now been filed nationwide. TechDirt makes the argument that this jury decision is completely crazy: "If the government is going to require companies to use a patented technology, it seems that the only reasonable solution is to remove the patent on it and allow competition in the market place." If the decision stands, not only will the price of table saws go way up, but other hungry patent-holders will probably get a gleam in their eye.
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Company Sued, Loses For Not Using Patented Tech

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  • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:09PM (#31543804) Homepage

    By his own logic, seems he should also be liable for not buying a saw using the "Saw Stop" technology. I hope the jury sees that.

    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:12PM (#31543862)
      Ding! Someone mod this up because this is exactly the issue. The guy bought a cheaper saw and then wanted to cry about the fact that Ryobi cut corners when he did exactly the same thing. I'd give him a sarcastic thumbs up but it might be seen as in bad taste.
      • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:13PM (#31543878) Journal

        Stumps up, dude!

      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:50PM (#31544402) Journal

        Anybody who knows anything about tools knows that brands like Ryobi and King are crap. Now, I've owned one or two myself (my King 4" angle grinder has lasted nearly five years so far), but I'm keenly aware that these will not perform as well as, say, a Makita, and it's likely there are functional issues.

        Table saws, at the best of times, are what guys who work with power tools like to refer to as "fucking dangerous". There are ways to certainly manufacture safer saws, but no matter whether you're using some cheap $200 bargain basement table saw or a top end unit is that you never stand in front of our behind the saw blade and just as importantly if you're ripping small pieces of wood, you don't feed them in with your hands. This is a good way to keep your hands intact.

        There isn't a tool that can be made safe enough to withstand an idiot.

        • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Friday March 19, 2010 @06:03PM (#31544596)

          brands like Ryobi and King are crap

          Wrong.

          I have a Ryobi table saw and it's perfectly fine for what it is. Would I use it to build a house? No. It's not meant for that. Is it a good-value table saw for cutting up the odd sheet of plywood or ripping the odd 2x6? Absolutely. It's a basic, easy-to-use light-duty table saw that I use 'now and again'. You need to buy products that align with the purpose for which they're intended, and Ryobi fits that niche nicely. They're not more, nor do they claim to be.

          • by virtualXTC (609488) on Friday March 19, 2010 @07:15PM (#31545416) Homepage
            Uhh, their motto is "Pro Feature affordable prices" how is this not claiming to be a professional tool? And for the prices they are charging you'd think they'd be at least better than similarly spec-ed Black and Decker model, but they NEVER are.

            I have a Ryobi table saw and it's perfectly fine for what it is. Would I use it to build a house? No. It's not meant for that. Is it a good-value table saw for cutting up the odd sheet of plywood or ripping the odd 2x6? Absolutely. It's a basic, easy-to-use light-duty table saw that I use 'now and again'. You need to buy products that align with the purpose for which they're intended, and Ryobi fits that niche nicely. They're not more, nor do they claim to be.

        • by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Friday March 19, 2010 @06:36PM (#31544980) Journal
          I have a Ryobi drill. I also have long hair. While drilling, my hair tie came out & my hair fell & got sucked into the drill. The drill stalled, my hair got a bit burnt, and I managed to unplug it. I then had a 4-pound drill hanging from my hair, which (while interesting) was not exactly fashionable. I managed to take the drill apart and unwind my hair from the motor. I then cleaned the drill of hair bits, greased the bearings where my hair had gotten stuck, & put it back together. Surprisingly the drill still worked. It may not be a great drill (plastic body, not many features) but it's simple and reliable.
      • by dmomo (256005) on Friday March 19, 2010 @10:35PM (#31546794) Homepage

        >> The guy bought a cheaper saw and then wanted to cry about the fact that Ryobi cut corners when he did exactly the same thing.

        Uhm. Isn't the whole point of buying a saw to cut corners?

    • ...but I have no doubt this will be appealed.

    • by jitendraharlalka (1702444) <jitendra...harlalka@@@gmail...com> on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:28PM (#31544106)

      By his own logic, seems he should also be liable for not buying a saw using the "Saw Stop" technology. I hope the jury sees that.

      Someone needs to ask the idiot, if he was gonna afford the extra cost that would have been added to get license for the patents? And, if yes, why didn't he do it in first place? And the jury must have been really dumb. The table saw company should have been only liable if the information they give about the materials/equipments used were misleading, exaggerated or wrong.

    • by Altus (1034) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:34PM (#31544192) Homepage

      And Home depot is liable for selling unsafe saws that lack the patented Saw Stop technology.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772)

      Indeed. the whole purpose of a patent is to protect novel inventions from being used by people other than the inventor.

      The consumer knew or was responsible to know that "Saw Stop" was a patented technology, and any device not advertising the technology implicitly does not have a similar safety feature.

      A patent holder has a right to deny use altogether, or charge exhorbitatnt fees to exercise their patent. So the person suing the company suggests, if the patent holder only sold or licensed the technolog

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:09PM (#31543806)

    sounds like a safety law suit jackpot and not a patent thing.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:21PM (#31544006)

      It is a patent issue because the flesh detection technology is patented and the patent holder wants a very high licensing fee, otherwise saw manufacturers would have adopted the technology years ago.

      Several saw manufacturers have been negotiating with the patent holder for years, but the last I time I read about it (3 years ago), the patent holder was asking the equivalent of half of the gross profit on every saw sold. Needless to say that is the equivalent of a lot of law suits.

      On the other hand, this definitely qualifies as frivolous law suit. Power saws are dangerous, and if you don't know how to use one safely, you shouldn't be playing with them.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        The good news is that patents have a short lifespan. The core patent will expire in 2022, at which point the manufacturers will be free to use the patented technology without paying the licensing fees. This also means that the company in question needs to pull its head out of its butt rather quickly and stop being so greedy or else it will find itself getting nothing at all.

      • by Samalie (1016193) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:53PM (#31544466)

        If you RTFA, you would see that they're trying to license for 3% of the wholesale value of the saws. Hardly half.

        The tool makers are balking because they feel the customers will be put off by the pricetag....$69 every time the saw brake engages, and $110 a blade (+ 3% increase in the wholesale cost of the saw). That might be true too...but hey, if you invented something, you'd want to make money off it too. And this is actually an invention, not the usual patent troll crap we see here on /.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Mr2001 (90979)

          If you RTFA, you would see that they're trying to license for 3% of the wholesale value of the saws. Hardly half.

          He said "half of the gross profit", not half the price of the saws.

          That might be true too...but hey, if you invented something, you'd want to make money off it too.

          Of course. But I wouldn't want to make money off it in this way, by effectively threatening to sue anyone who arranges saw parts in a certain way unless they pay me royalties. I prefer to get paid for doing work, rather than charging rent on work I did 20 years earlier.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rattaroaz (1491445)

            Of course. But I wouldn't want to make money off it in this way, by effectively threatening to sue anyone who arranges saw parts in a certain way unless they pay me royalties. I prefer to get paid for doing work, rather than charging rent on work I did 20 years earlier.

            Let me guess: you're not an American. Because I would LOVE to be paid bucketloads of money for something I invented 20 years ago . . . only I would REALLY prefer if it was life + 20 years, so the rest of my lazy family could benefit from that as well. Once the time comes up though, I'm sure someone will argue that life + 100 is more fair, so I'm not too worried. Because I really shouldn't have to do more work. I did enough 20 years ago!

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by couchslug (175151)

          The professional customers will be ENRAGED to be charged PROPRIETARY tech because some shithead hurt himself. They want and need STANDARD, simple blades.

          I want simple tools because they are tougher and easier to maintain. Many professional users keep tools and equipment for years, and don't need the inherent "planned obsolesence" that goes with implementing complex features.

          Table saws aren't just toys for hobbyists. They are a vital construction industry tool. I sincerely wish the idiot who started the laws

    • by ejdmoo (193585) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:48PM (#31544380)
      Ah, but it is a patent thing, because the guy who invented the saw is a former patent lawyer.

      Stephen Gass, an Oregon native, invented the SawStop's flesh-detecting saw brake in his barn. Gass left his career as a patent lawyer to try to license the device to tool manufacturers, who turned him away. Gass went into business, designing and selling his own saws, which have set a new standard for safety in the industry.

  • Horrible summary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by clang_jangle (975789)
    The case is not about patented software, it's about liability due to lack of modern safety technology. The fact that the currently accepted solution is patented is irrelevant, a FOSS alternative would be just as good.
    • by sanosuke001 (640243) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:18PM (#31543938)
      It isn't irrelevant. This is setting precedent that if a company doesn't implement a patented technology, they are liable. This would pretty much force every company to license and implement every other companies' patents or be held responsible for any negative consequences.

      It might not be about software, but this isn't the "News for software nerds" and patent law is something a lot of the people at the site have strong opinions about.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by spun (1352)

        This isn't about patents. It's worse. This is classic legislation from the bench. If we want all saws to have this safety feature, we need to pass a law. Otherwise, if you want this safety feature, spend the extra bucks to buy a saw that has it. Hopefully this ludicrous and dangerous precedent will be overturned on appeal.

        • Re:Horrible post (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bwcbwc (601780) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:43PM (#31544320)

          One thing this is not is legislation from the bench. For one thing it was a jury verdict, not a ruling from the judge. For another thing, there is existing law passed by the legislature, and regulations defined by the executive branch for requiring safety features on various devices (though not necessarily specific to saws).

          Where I can see the jury coming from is that the Ryobi saw was measurably less safe than the existing state of the art for such saws. They aren't necessarily requiring Ryobi to buy a license, but they are saying "either license the tech or develop your own that provides a comparable level of safety."

          However, I still disagree with the decision because there are plenty of safety features on saws, as well as standard practices to prevent accidents. The fact that most saws available still don't incorporate the patented tech means that while the state of the art is better, the generally accepted standard for safety is lower. Unless the legislature or the CPSC actively steps in to raise the safety standards to include flesh-detection technology, the generally accepted standard of safety should apply. This verdict sets the bar for "callous disregard for safety" way too low.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            One thing this is not is legislation from the bench.

            You're right - it's legislation from the jury box. So instead of having an experienced legal expert make the law, we've let a bunch of yoyos too stupid and/or unemployable to get out of jury duty do it. Wow, what an improvement.

          • Re:Horrible post (Score:5, Insightful)

            by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Friday March 19, 2010 @07:54PM (#31545770) Homepage
            I'm reminded of a Pratchett quote. "Safe? It's not meant to be safe. It's a sword." Really, when you purchase a cutting disc that spins around at several thousand RPM and sticks up out of a flat surface, you should expect to cut the odd minor appendage off occasionally and act accordingly.
    • by mcvos (645701)

      The fact that the currently accepted solution is patented is irrelevant, a FOSS alternative would be just as good.

      No it wouldn't. It's about power tools, which are hardware. Software, open source or otherwise, won't help you here.

  • by mi (197448)

    "If the government is going to require companies to use a patented technology"

    In this case, the "requirement" is not coming from the government, but from a jury... The lawsuit was not brought by a government agency, but by a private individual...

    Nice to see an opposition to government-required purchases, though... Health insurance, anyone?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by twidarkling (1537077)

      If the judgement stands, it becomes a precedent with legal force, requiring companies to follow it, since they'd be open to civil liabilities. That means it comes from the government.

    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@noSPam.hackish.org> on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:20PM (#31543982)

      The jury held that the law required the company to do so. The law requiring something is pretty much the definition of something being required by "the government".

      (And in any case, a jury is a government institution, albeit a temporarily constituted one.)

      • by mi (197448) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:39PM (#31544270) Homepage

        The jury held that the law required the company to do so.

        The jury found [oregonlive.com], that saws without such devices are defective. I agree, that this is nonsense, but most people cheered, when an automaker was crucified [findlaw.com] for not making their gas tank safer. GM did not break any law, but were found responsible for the deaths anyway.

        The saws weren't defective before the device was invented, but they are now — according to the jury...

        There is a much worse example of this problem, one that actually involves the (Executive) Government — I am talking about building codes, which get tightened every year. An unelected government official can force you to rebuild your house "to code" whenever you ask them for a building permit. But we don't read about that outrage in newspapers...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      In this case, the "requirement" is not coming from the government, but from a jury...

      Last I looked, the courts were a branch of government.

  • These are one of the most dangerous tools you can use. Not because they're particularly dangerous themselves, but because people like to cut their thumbs off when they use them.

    A chainmail glove reduces the chance of this.

    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:17PM (#31543934) Journal

      Ah, power tools. Cheap, don't require a license or even a class to buy or operate, and potentially deadly to the untrained. One of the last bastions holding out against the evil nanny state. Of course, this particular bastion is guarded by a cadre of thumbless idiots, but that just makes it all the funnier for the rest of us.

    • by swb (14022)

      But how much? I have a pretty inexpensive table saw with "only" a 1.5 HP motor, yet I don't see chain mail (at least any kind that would still make handling wood at the saw comfortable/safe) gloves as being able to realistically stop the blade at speed.

      For guys using bigger saws with, say, 3 HP motors, it seems like there'd be no use in wearing them.

    • by Posting=!Working (197779) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:28PM (#31544114)

      As the tip of the blade hooks into the loop of the chain mail glove and tries to pull it, and your hand inside it, through the slot in the table and being partially successful, you'll wish you'd just cut your finger off.

      Some tools are much safer without gloves. Drill Presses and vertical band saws are in this category.

    • by guyfawkes-11-5 (1583613) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:32PM (#31544168) Homepage

      These are one of the most dangerous tools you can use. Not because they're particularly dangerous themselves, but because people like to cut their thumbs off when they use them.

      A chainmail glove reduces the chance of this.

      I cant say that I have ever seen anyone use a chainmail glove with a tablesaw, hobbyist or professional. A average table saw would be able to cut right through chainmail. Ef. There are special blades you can use when cutting lumber with nails in it. It doesn't even flinch when cutting an 8d nail. So its back to basics:
      Pushsticks to keep your fingers away, featherboards to reduce kickback,common sense and RESPECT for the machine!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nextekcarl (1402899)

        I hear you. I think the plaintiff in this case would be surprised to hear that I once had a class of high school freshman (including myself) using saws like that all year long and not one of use required medical attention!

  • When we decide that certain items must include certain safety features, we pass a law specifying that. Did anyone ever sue an auto manufacturer who did not include airbags? I don't think so. If we want all saws to have this technology, we need to pass a law, otherwise, this is a horrible blurring of the separation of powers, amounting to legislation from the judiciary.

    That being said, I don't think we should pass such a law. Power tool injuries are just too hilarious.

    "Whad'ya do there buddy?"

    "Oh, I chopped off all of my own fingers with a table saw."

    COMEDY GOLD!

    • by The Angry Mick (632931) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:20PM (#31543990) Homepage

      Did anyone ever sue an auto manufacturer who did not include airbags? I don't think so.

      Actually, yes [thefreelibrary.com].

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      When we decide that certain items must include certain safety features, we pass a law specifying that.

      We also have general product liability laws making manufacturer's liable for products where reasonable steps aren't taken to assure they are safe for their intended use.

      Often, the kind of more specific laws you refer to are actually exceptions to the more general liability rules, in that companies are specifically protected from liability for certain types of hazard provided that they provide features that

      • by spun (1352)

        Interesting. Has there ever been a case requiring the use of new, patented technology before? I mean, if a product was considered safe enough before the technology came out, how could it be considered unsafe afterwords?

    • When we decide that certain items must include certain safety features, we pass a law specifying that. Did anyone ever sue an auto manufacturer who did not include airbags? I don't think so.

      Taken from the original article:

      Carpinello likens flesh-detection technology to airbags, which fueled a similar slew of litigation when they were first installed in cars. Automakers without airbags got sued for not adopting the better safety design. Now, all cars have airbags.

  • But wait! (Score:5, Funny)

    by lottameez (816335) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:12PM (#31543860)
    Requiring manufacturers to use this patented safety device would be denying me my right to cut off my fingers. Stay out of my self-mutilation, government!
    • Re:But wait! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by selven (1556643) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:24PM (#31544072)

      And denying you the right to use cheap tools if you aren't worried about safety. You could argue that no one would willingly subject themselves to such a risk for a few tens of dollars, but why not put the cheap unsafe saws out there with some safety warnings and see if anyone actually wants them? If no one buys them, you don't need a law anyway. If some people buy them, then there's a demand for them and they should be allowed to be sold.

  • How is this any different from Congress requiring car manufacturers to incorporate electronic stability control in their new cars?

    • by Meshach (578918)
      From TFA this is exactly what happened with airbags in cars. Airbags were introduced and patented. At first they were just in some cars. Then manufactures that did not have air bags got sued because their product was not as safe as it could be. So they licensed the idea from the patent holder and put it in their cars. Now everyone is safer and the guy who invented a way to save lots of lives got rich.

      What is the problem?
      • by Nadaka (224565) on Friday March 19, 2010 @06:18PM (#31544782)

        The problem is that there is a simple, preexisting and free way to use a table saw where you never risk getting limbs cut off. This method has been available to everyone since table saws were invented. Here it is: Do not put your limbs in the damn saw blade while it is spinning.

        When driving a car there is no way for a driver to ensure that other drivers are not going to hit them and risk injury that could be mitigated by an airbag.

    • There is no mandate to implement an emergency stop in a table saw. Maybe there should be, but there isn't. So it ain't the same.

      Could you sue car-makers that did NOT introduce safety belts as soon as they became available?

      Mind you, I am in two minds about this. A working safety feature exists, so why is it not implemented? This story has come up before, and while the guy who has the patent wants money I find it hard to sympathize with the poor power-tool companies who of course do NOT expect to be paid fo

  • Not again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by CajunArson (465943) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:14PM (#31543890) Journal

    Slashdot and the Law: Unsafe at any speed.

    It's been years since I was in Torts class, but this is a product liability suit... NOT a patent suit. The only reason the "patent" is being bandied about is because this guy's argument boils down to this: Riyobi knew (or should have known) that there was a safer way to make the saw. Riyobi presumably did not choose the safer way. Therefore, Riyobi should be liable for my injury.

    Note that this argument by itself is nowhere near sufficient to win a product liability lawsuit. For example, it's easy to say that you could make any car safer by preventing it from going over 5mph, but just throwing that fact out in court by itself will never win a product liability case. Usually there are lots of extra factors like industry standards and cost-benefit analyzes that are argued over by lots of expert witnesses. Could Riyobi have "reasonably" adopted the improved design? etc. etc.

    The ONLY reason that a patent has anything important to do with this case is that patents are, by definition, publicly available and it makes an easy argument to show that Riyobi knew or could have known about what was disclosed in the patent. Also, there is NO REQUIREMENT that Riyobi would HAVE to use the safety system described in the patent. Instead, the safety system is just an example of what is known, and Riyobi could argue that its own systems were just as good or even better. The patent was likely just one data point of MANY data points used to establish what a "reasonable" safety system would look like. One interesting point would be to see if Riyobi itself is the assignee of the patent....

    In a nutshell: Don't read too much into this case. Like most legal cases discussed on Slashdot, somebody saw a buzzword like "patent" and wanted to score points with the mouthbreathing site admins.

    • by CajunArson (465943) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:17PM (#31543936) Journal

      Oh.. and "buzzword" was not an intentional pun there.....

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Red Flayer (890720)

        Oh.. and "buzzword" was not an intentional pun there.....

        I bet you wish we could edit posts so you could go back and cut off that part of your comment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kemapa (733992) *

      It's also important to note that trial courts don't set precedent, appellate courts do that (and this case was at the trial court level). The other lawsuits that are popping up elsewhere aren't the result of any new precedent set by this case, they are the result of other lawyers being shown a winning argument. CajunArson is right about Slashdot and the law -- I see a couple posts at +5 alleging that there is now legal precedent requiring the use of patented technology -- supposedly by a court that cannot

  • by Tiger4 (840741) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:14PM (#31543894)

    A jury verdict is not a government order. The jury, for whatever reason, found that the plaintiff had a good argument and they agreed with him. That doesn't immediately mean every saw manufacturer must now and forever include this patented technology. Certainly it doesn't men they must license it at whatever price the patent holder demands. It only means the plaintiff had a good lawyer, Ryobi had a not so good one, and the jury decided Ryobi could have made a safer product. The rest is just outrageous hyperbole.

    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@noSPam.hackish.org> on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:24PM (#31544058)

      These kinds of decisions do tend to have that effect, though. Any future table-saw company who does not include the technology will be in an even worse position than Ryobi, because not only did they fail to include available safety technology, but they willfully failed to do so even after another company was held liable for injuries resulting from the same omission.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tiger4 (840741)

        Perhaps. But even then it is a business decision. Not until some regulatory agency forces them to put a particular device on the product is a requirement. Until then, they only pay a penalty if someone buys a product, gets injured, sues, and wins. Which means including it or not is a business decision, not a mandate. Remember Ford Pintos and the exploding gas tanks? Supposedly $8 times however many they sold was more expensive than the few lawsuits they would defend, so no gas tank shields.

        And the nex

  • I wonder, at what point does a feature that saves lives, limbs, or fingers go from "nice to have" to mandatory? Seat belts, for example -- once they were an option, now you have to have them and *use* them.

    I often hear the ads for GM's OnStar, where someone is in a crash and the OnStar response saves their life or that of someone in the other car. They tout some large number of OnStar crash activations as a reason to buy a GM car. But if it's such a critical safety feature -- if nobody in their right min

  • Was the guy using all possible safety devices available, including those that cost a lot? If not, then by his logic he's responsible (which can't be, because he's clearly irresponsible). Or, did he verify that the saw used all possible safety mechanisms before he used it? Hell, what if I patent the "has no power cord or battery" safety mechanism; does that mean anyone can sue a power too manufacturer for not incorporating my 100% safe device?
  • sue everyone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NeoXon (1718618) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:18PM (#31543944)
    Seems like Americans must always sue everyone even if they are simply stupid. Would you also sue a knife producing factory just because you did not know you could kill a human with it? Hello! It's your responsibility!
  • 1) Buy sharp scissors
    2) Run with scissors
    3) Sue manufacturer on the grounds that they weren't safety scissors
    4) Profit!

  • by Dr. Evil (3501)

    "It seemed, for this industry, a fundamental discovery," Fanning said. "I'd never seen anything like it."

    The demo is pretty impressive: http://www.sawstop.com/howitworks/videos.php [sawstop.com]

    Seems to test conductivity, probably between the table and the blade

    7. Can I cut conductive materials?

    "Yes. You can operate the saw in Bypass Mode which deactivates the safety system's braking feature, allowing you to cut aluminum and other known conductive materials. If you are unsure if the material you need to cut is condu

    • by gknoy (899301)

      I must say, I never knew about this feature, so I'm really glad for this article (and, specifically, your links). Watching the videos on their site are both Really Awesome, and extra scary when you think about the "not 'if', but 'when'" part of power tool accidents.

      I know I won't be buying a table saw without this.

  • Lawyers are the scourge of the earth, and will not be finished mining the product liability goldmine until everything in existence has giant safety warnings on it, and commonsense is abandoned.

  • Tools are dangerous, and if you buy a tool the risks are explained in the manual. You want 'safe' tools, shop around and pay more. OR choose average tools and keep your fingers out of the way like the rest of us do. ( this assumes no fundamental defects of course )

    This will get over turned on appeals.

  • Financially viable? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Radical Moderate (563286) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:39PM (#31544272)
    From TFA: "Osorio's legal team, ... pointed to SawStop's sales as evidence that the technology is not only mechanically feasible but financially viable"

    SawStop's cheapest saw is $1600. To get the saw working again after a stoppage costs $169 in parts. That alone is more than I paid for my table saw, brand new. These a**holes are basically trying to destroy woodworking as a hobby. Yes, saws are dangerous, that's why I'm always incredibly careful when I use one.

    This tech is great for schools or shops where saws are used all the time, but to insist that no saw be sold without this technology is nuts.
  • This is ridiculous (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MattskEE (925706) on Friday March 19, 2010 @06:02PM (#31544586)

    It's not a consumer product safety standard and Ryobi shouldn't be held liable for making table saws the same way they've been made for decades. If the customer wanted a more expensive saw with which was safer he should have bought one. Instead he bought a Ryobi saw but apparently he has buyer's remorse since he is suing them for selling exactly what he wanted to buy.

    This system apparently adds ~$150 to the purchase price of the saw, plus $170 every time it triggers (new brake and new blade), so it's hardly a foregone conclusion that all saws should have it, given that most people never injure themselves on their power tools. To be fair a table saw is often regarded as the most dangerous common power tool, but that's why you always treat it very carefully and follow certain safety rules like using a "push stick" instead of putting your hand near the blade. It's a lot like using a vertical bandsaw.

    If you read the article you see that the lawyer who filed this suit was hired by the user's health insurance company. So that's the real story: the health insurance company doesn't want to pay for people injuring themselves with power tools. So the user gets a settlement, the health insurance probably gets a portion of it, and the lawyer definitely gets a portion of it.

  • FTFA... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rickb928 (945187) on Friday March 19, 2010 @06:28PM (#31544886) Homepage Journal

    "Last week, a Boston jury ..."

    That's all I needed to read to understand. While East Texas juries are reknown for their patent infringement jurisprudence, Boston juries never met a victim they didn't love, no matter the circumstances. And they never met a corporation they didn't think deserved to pay out a little cash. No surprise at all here.

    The secondary problem is that saw manufacturers are well aware of SawStop technology, but refuse to give it any credence. They both ignore and discreidt it for three reasons:

    1) To admit it is effective is to make it desireable for their products, and implicitly state that their products are less safe than they might otherwise be.

    2) To actually incorporate it in their products wuld increase prices, possibly to the point that sales could decline. A little.

    3) SawStop is expensive - when it is triggered, you get to replace the triggered components AND the saw blade. Yes, please stop the flames, I KNOW IT IS CHEAPER THAN A FINGER OR THUMB. But it will annoy people who have to pay out $100-$200 or more very time they trip it. And many will claim it 'just triggered' and demand refunds and free parts. Witness the Prius fiasco, with at least one likely hoax. Multiply that by thouands. Just saying.

    4) Admitting your product is this dangerous will bring out all the past victims demanding compensation. You think asbestos was expensive?

    Now, I've seen SawStop demonstrated. It is frighteningly effective. And the testimonials are similarly shocking. Like a school teacher testifying that it saved him and a student's thumb the first semester it was used. I was taught safety as part of everything I did with a table saw, and the demonstration back then was, coincidentally, a hot dog. Boy, does a Delta saw go through hot dogs real good... We understood that our fingers would not be saved. And our teacher failed one kid and sent him to study hall after he violated safety procedures a third time. I know this teacher saved me a finger 25 years later. I might buy a SawStop some day, but I watch what I'm doing, and I don't do enough to become comfortable and lazy. Yet.

    SawStop is expensive to use, but the cost of a finger/thumb/whatever makes that a bargain. One most saw users will just not pay. Do you know any long-time woodworkers? How many of them have all their digits? Not 100%, I bet.

    But the industry is avoiding this until the patents expire, and then they can incorporate it and charge up the wazoo. IF they can get over the potential liability, the false claims of false triggering to avoid the parts cost, and the inevitable claims for injuries where the victim will say it didn't work.

    And you can bypass SawStop on a saw, slice off something, and reconnect it. Niiice. Of course, who leaves blade guards and kickback pawls on anyways...

    We are our own worst enemies. And we expect someone else to pay.

  • responsibility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zugok (17194) on Friday March 19, 2010 @06:37PM (#31544992)

    Though this may be about patents, this is also about whom has the responsibility of safety. Its dangerous to put the responsibility of safety in technology and not on the operator. Technology will fail and people need to know how to react when that happens. In this case, sure Ryobi can get a licence to use the technology but it but the operator should just have been more careful.

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