Tool Maker Loses Lawsuit For Not Violating Another Company's Patents

from the exclusivity? dept

Patent system supporters regularly point (slightly misleadingly) to the claim that the patent system gives patent holders the right to exclude others from using their inventions. And, thus, most lawsuits we see around patents revolve around cases involving a company manufacturing a product that includes a patented invention. But what about a lawsuit for a company that deliberately chose not to license or use a patented technology, because it was too expensive?

Welcome to today's world.

A few years back, there was a lot of attention paid to videos from a company called SawStop that made a pretty cool product that protected your fingers from a table saw. You may have seen the videos:
The company tried to license the invention to various table saw makers, but after evaluating the technology, many were not convinced how well it worked and felt that the cost was way too high (both for themselves, and for consumers). In fact, some appeared to fear that if they did adopt this technology and then someone still got hurt, they were asking for a big lawsuit for promoting this technology as a safety feature.

But what about the other way around? Could someone be so bold as to actually sue for using a table saw that did not have this technology?

ChurchHatesTucker alerts us to the story of a lawsuit in Boston that involved a guy whose hand was damaged in a table saw accident while using a table saw from Ryobi. The guy's complaint was that Ryobi should have included this technology and that it should be required to protect hands. And, amazingly, the jury sided with the guy.

Yes, you read that right. The jury effectively claimed that any table saw maker is liable for injuries if it does not license this technology and build it into its table saws.

That, of course, conflicts with that basic "exclusivity" part of patent law -- and would effectively mean that SawStop has now been given total defacto control over who can be allowed to sell table saws in the US. That clearly is not what the law was intended to do. The government should never require companies to have to purchase a patent license for a technology they don't believe the market wants. And, in this case, the ruling has resulted in numerous other lawsuits against other table saw makers -- and a near guarantee that the price of table saws will go way up. Old saws can't be retrofitted, and table saw makers need to totally change their manufacturing process and greatly increase costs to offer this technology.

This seems blatantly wrong. 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.

Filed Under: patents, requirements, safety, saws
Companies: ryobi, sawstop


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  1. identicon
    CastorTroy-Libertarian, 19 Mar 2010 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re:

    Ok where to start,
    "Part of the problem is that, if you did manage to chop your hand off, where are you going to go? The ER. Sure, you may have insurance, you may not. You may pay all your bill up front, or in payments or not at all. You potentially effect the cost of health care, in part, due to your taking responsibility for yourself (or, we all pay the consequences for your choice)."
    What you are purposing here is that if he takes responsiblity then your cost go up, thats an unfounded position from the start. The first step of personal responsiblitiy is just that: if you mess up (or mangle a hand) YOU have to deal with it. YOU pay the costs. YOU figure out how YOU are going to work or what ever. Your position is that some how by him using a service and paying for it (thus the cost is on him and him alone) it causes your rates/and or service to go up, that goes against basic economics. The only time a rate would go up is when DEAD BEATS cheat the system, or MEDICARE tells them the cost will be .05% of the real cost, so to re-coup a loss they must charge more on something else.

    As a personal example, my 2 month old son just spent 2 weeks in the one of the best childrens hospitals on the planet, it wasnt cheap, but because of the care he recieved, i still have my son. The cost of that stay was about 200,000. I have insurance that i pay for out of my own pocket, I got it the day i found out i would be a father, i got it for him, my wife, and my self in case something happened. Well it did, and i did the resposible thing, and now I still have to PAY for about 20,000 of the care. I do not whine about it, I do not sue, i do not complain to the Government, I took responsiblity for the care he recieved and the contract i signed, went to the hospital and spoke to them. They worked out a plan with me and i am now paying that off too. the expense did not cost anyone any more than it already did, I used their service gladly and I am paying for it. I will gladly do it again if I have to, for the sake of my son.

    And take your facist, you know better (yet can't even spell Ayn's name correctly) freeloading ass, and stick it where the sun doesnt shine. OH and the ones you speak about at the end of your little communist manifesto are the people that use any system to the absolute fullest, yet do not pay anything, or even look to find ways to save money (like ER visits for a pimple, or an ambulance ride just to get into town).
    We the people who actually take care and pay for ourselves are tired of paying for your deadbeat asses...

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