FTO analysis to increase value and decrease risk

Today almost all companies understand the value of applying for patents on inventions before launching a product. Getting a patent on your ideas or inventions adds worth by increasing your intangible assets. Most importantly, it enhances your company’s power in the marketplace by providing it with the right to prevent others from making or using your invention without permission and thus creating a niche for themselves.

Before launching a new product in the market, a freedom to operate search is conducted to evaluate whether marketing a product or applying a process will infringe a valid patent at a given point of time. It is a search that identifies and analyzes the patent of others that may subject your company to patent infringement liability.

By performing an FTO (freedom to operate search) analysis before developing or bringing a new product in the market, you will prevent the risk of future litigation and associated unnecessary expenses. If this analysis is done early in the cycle, it gives you an opportunity to modify the design and prevent infringement before reaching the point of no return. The analysis begins with an assessment of the product or service. The analysis will provide you answer for some of these following questions.

  • Which components are likely to bring scrutiny?
  • Are the products or parts developed by others or under agreements include indemnification clauses?
  • Will the product or the service differ from country to country?

A professional patent attorney with good experience in FTO analysis and patent litigation support area should be hired to correctly analyze the information and provide an opinion on the risks of moving forward. You should never assume FTO analysis will guarantee that your company will not be sued. The patents and applications identified will mainly depend on the quality of search. These studies are time-consuming and costly. Companies choose wisely when and where to perform analysis to minimize risk and maximize value.

A company needs to keep many things in mind for making an informed decision about whether to go for a freedom to search analysis or not. Before getting the analysis done, a company should think seriously how it is going to utilize the results. Is it ready to avoid litigation at all costs? Is it ready to stop with the new product or service if the conclusions are unfavorable? Once you analyze all this, you can proceed with freedom to operate search.

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