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  • #16
    A story I heard in School about litagation and stupid people comes to mind here.

    A man was using his lawnmower to trim his hedges. He was holding it up in the air and making the blade cut the bushes (I can imagine my crusty old neigbor doing this. Something bad happened. He tripped or some how lost control and fumbled the mower only to cut off one of his legs.

    I guess he found a good lawyer because he sued and won a settlement. As stupid as this all sounds, the reason he won the suit is because the caution sticker had peeled off the mower and the manufacturer was deemed liable.

    I'm told that now mowers come with warnings stamped in the steel deck.

    We all feel like we're pretty smart about stuff and safe with ourselves, but we aren't everyone. And, we aren't ALWAYS that smart and safe with ourselves.

    If this contraption really works, it'll be included eventually and that invetor will be rich - just like the lawyers.


    • #17
      Longhorn's story is a classic that's used as an example of stupid lawsuits. I don't know if it's real or more "urban legend", but there is no doubt there are real cases out there just like it.

      As far as government safety requirements, I don't think that they can site a specific device or method (both patentable) to provide a specific feature (not patentable), such as "must stop blade within 5ms. of contact with tissue". Of course, if they DID make that requirement, any owner of a patent that provided this feature would be in a great bargaining position with tool makers. But, the tool makers could also develop their own method.

      What will get sticky is if the safety requirement accidentally implies a specific technology to be used. That could make it tough for a company that might want to develop their own method, without infringing on patent rights.

      Hopefully, this will all go the route of the free-enterprise system where consumer demand drives whether the tool maker should invest in a new feature. You could argue that a left-tilt saw is a "safety feature", but it certainly isn't required. People demand it, so tool makers sell it.