(6 pages of text)
A patent lawyer and amateur woodworker with a doctorate in physics has invented a new technology to prevent table saw injuries - specifically, amputations. He has no desire to manufacture table saws, and instead protects his technology with patents and then seeks licensing arrangements with incumbent saw producers. In 2002, after two years of attempting to engage manufacturers, he accepts that they are unwilling to license his invention and he must decide whether to return to his law practice or launch a company to produce saws himself. He and his partners have no knowledge or experience with regard to making saws or starting a business. The (B) case advances the narrative to 2012.
The case is intended for use in undergraduate or graduate courses in entrepreneurship, strategy, innovation or technology commercialization. The (A) case can be used to highlight the alternative paths of licensing versus manufacturing as ways to bring a new technology to market. A core element of the discussion will involve the reluctance of incumbent firms to adopt the new technology and their motives. This becomes particularly important in the (B) case. Related issues include the nature of opportunity recognition and the unique attributes of the inventor (woodworker, patent attorney, physicist) that led to the invention. Students are also challenged to consider the market entry alternatives and choices of the SawStop founders and their decision to manufacture their saws offshore.
United States, Small, 2002
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