Any rumors about the Festool Domino’s patent expiring soon are patently false. Bad word game there, patent/patently, but if you did hear such a rumor, it would be, at the moment of this article, wrong. The degree to which it might be wrong, though, is not entirely clear, and it has to do with patent law in all its various forms.
Before we get to the law, though, and fall asleep, let’s look at Festool and its terrific tool, the Festool Domino.
Festool And Their Tools
Festool manufactures its tools in Europe and the US rather than avail itself of the lower labor costs a factory in Asia could offer. This, alone, tends to speak well of Festool as a tool-making company.
Add to that the extremely high-quality standards employed by Festool, and you know you will be getting a quality tool that will last a long time with proper use and maintenance/storage. Its use of high-quality tooling for its parts and careful inspections all along the manufacturing process, you will know the tools will be the best at what they do.
The Festool Domino is one example.
Experienced woodworkers will know of the mortise and tenon joint, at the least, and probably have worked with them often. These joints are among the strongest and are a part of so many furniture projects in the home woodworking shop.
Where biscuit joints and biscuit joiners were previously the go-to, as well as dowel joints, the Festool Domino moved to the head of the class when it was introduced to the woodworking market around 2007.
The biscuit jointer was the tool that made the grooves in the wood the biscuits fit into; measurements were made and marked so that the grooves aligned properly and the sides of the wood being joined were level and flush.
Before this, chisels and hammers were used to make mortises. A little bit of material was removed at a time, measurements were taken, and material removal continued until the desired depth was reached. The sides of the mortise were smoothed and made ready for the tenon.
The tenon was cut by a saw and maybe cleaned, shaped, and sized by a chisel. A bit of glue was applied, the tenon was inserted into the mortise, and clamps were used to hold it tight while the glue dried.
How The Festool Domino Works
The Festool Domino changed that. Its purpose was and remains to cut the mortise in a single plunge. It works similarly to the biscuit jointer, cutting in a single plunge, except that it has a drill-like rotating cutter with a spinning bit. What’s more, the cutter and its spinning bit moves sideways, thus cutting a full-rounded mortise.
Those cutters come in different sizes, and the one you use will depend on the size and the weight to be supported by the piece being built. Festool also sells dominos, the wood biscuit-like pieces that will fit in the cuts, which come in various sizes, too, that match the cut sizes. They are ridged, also, to give more gluing surface.
Two plunge cuts, one in each piece of wood being joined, glue up the mortise and domino and assemble the two pieces. That is the Festool Domino process – easy, fast, done. Clamp up the pieces, let the glue dry, and the mortise and tenon joint is created.
Biscuit joinery is a good technique and creates a strong joint. It helps align planks being jointed for a tabletop edge to edge, and when glued and assembled, will hold tight over time. Dowels are a good joinery technique, also, and no special tool is required unless you prefer to use a dowel jig rather than simply your power drill freehand.
But for joining wood at right angles, nothing is as strong as mortise and tenon joints. When it comes to cutting a mortise, The Festool Domino is the perfect tool, and there is no other power tool that can do what it does.
We’ve written before of the Festool Domino and all of the projects for which it is well-suited. You can visit that article here if you want to read more.
As a specialty power tool that has no competitor or equal, it carries a very high price. Earlier in 2023, those prices were $1100 for the Festool Domino 500 and $1500 for the Festool Domino 700. This is likely a lot more than you paid for most other power tools you already have in your woodworking shop.
This tool is mostly for the professional woodworking market and is priced out of reach for the home woodworking enthusiast.
Festool has no competition for its Domino tool because of the patents it holds.
We know that patents are intellectual property that, once filed, will give the holder the legal right to prevent anyone else from competing with a “knock-off” device, thing, or process. If you’ve invented a device, thing, or process and filed a description of it or them with the Patent Office, you can acquire commercial protection for it for the life of the patent.
Under the law, patents are exclusive to the holder for a period of 20 years. Festool holds the patent(s) for its Domino exclusively and can stop any competitor from copying, using, or selling it or anything like it.
Once the 20 years are up, though, the holder of a patent loses its protection from competition, and others are entitled to copy, use, and sell similar products. The patent protection begins upon the filing of the application and is 20 years from that date.
Can The Festool Patent Be Extended?
We would normally say that, technically speaking, patents can not be extended. However, this is the law we are talking about, and there always seem to be ways to circumvent it. This is true to an extent of patent law. There are a couple of exceptions:
- Continuation Patents. These are new applications that permit the patent holder to pursue additional patent protection for the “parent” patent, the original one(s) acquired. If a device, thing, or process for which patent protection has been issued were further enhanced, this would fit the definition of a continuation patent. Its purpose, for instance, would be to expand the original patent.
- Divisional Patents. Similar to a continuation patent, the divisional patent would be directed at a different part of the device, thing, or process instead of the same claim(s) of the parent patent. An example would be a redesign of a single part or component with a new invention. An argument can be made that the original device or thing had been “re-invented.”
Where Does That Leave Festool Domino Patents?
The original Festool Domino patent(s) were created sometime in the 2005 – 2006 years, as the first of the models were brought to market in 2007. In the absence of a continuation or divisional patent application in the intervening years, you would expect the original patent protections to expire in either 2025 or 2026.
However, it is unlikely that Festool has sat on its hands. We’re certain its lawyers and inventors have been busy with further enhancements and “re-inventions” since then. As a part of our research for this piece, we examined more than 3 dozen patents issued to Festool just since 2017. The descriptions in each of the applications were, to say the least, a bit unrevealing as to what they referred to, except when they mentioned vacuum cleaners and dust collection systems.
Try as we might, we were unable to pinpoint one in these past years that was specifically about the Festool Domino, and our examination was only of publicly available information rather than the actual filings with the Patent Office.
We believe we can safely say that the original Festool Domino patent(s) will not expire at the earliest until 2025 or 2026. However, we’d wager that continuation and divisional patents are on file to extend those dates beyond the mid-2020s.