Patent Expiration

I was doing a couple of patent searches the other day. The Festool domino always comes up and no I did not find which patents those were but I did look up US patent 5716045. This is the Incra patent that was filled in 1995 and published on Feb 20, 1998.

Does this mean that that the patent on the threaded locking positioning system has expired? Incra makes some really, really nice products but I would love to see this technology developed in other ways. Think of a Biesemeyer style fence that uses this locking mechanism or a table saw or router table (Kreg already uses a T-style fence). You would not have to have the large side space open which would be nice in my garage shop. I know that I have seen on YouTube a [very well] homemade version but nothing that is commercially available. I don’t have the video link but props to the guy that made that. It is not an option for me as I do posses the prerequisite welding skills.

Where I would buy is that of a T-track system that would be able to precisely lock the clamp at the same spot. Yes, Incra makes something similar but it is not compatible with most t-slot things and then I could use this on homemade shop projects like custom parallel guides or something like that.

Does anyone have more knowledge into these rules or know of something that we might see in the future. I would also love to see Incra keep innovating and what else they can come up with but it looks like other may be allowed to use this idea in the future.

It’s a long way from the availability of an invention (e.g., expired patent) and launching a product. Probably the technology is one of the least important components of product success. And, the technology might not be available, as there may have been improvements to the invention still under patent or essential underlying patents that would prevent a new entrant in the business from producing a competitive product. To say it differently: A patent gives its holder the right to prevent others from exploiting the invention. It does not give the patent holder the right to exploit the invention.