Why Freedom to Operate Search is important?
Think of this scenario. You have launched a new product that is setting the world on it. It has a great functionality. So it would be unlucky if, after a month’s launch, you receive a letter from a legal company telling you that your patent breaches the patent rights of another company. So how are you going to prevent such risky situations, and the huge legal costs pertaining to fighting legal suits? You can do this by evaluating your freedom to operate search.
In technical terms, freedom to operate search is an evaluation of whether you infringe the patent, invention or trademark rights of another entity or not. It is a simple and straightforward analysis performed meticulously dissecting the product or process into its basic components and then analyzing each for any attached IP rights. These searches also incorporate a limited validity search of expired and unexpired patents and non-patent literature. They will help you determine all the potential barriers to the invention or product in specific geographical areas to the commercialization of products or technologies. In a layman’s language, freedom to operate (FTO) is an assessment made by patent attorneys. It provides an analysis of any patents owned by third party shielding inventions that are similar to a particular product or process of interest that will be currently sold or made by the company. The analysis is provided in the form of a written document with detailed information or opinion. You will find not all companies opt for FTO opinions on their inventions or processes for many reasons. The biggest reason is the cost. Getting this analysis done can be costly, depending on the level of intricacy of the product or process and the depth and breadth of the FTO analysis. However, when you will compare the costs and benefits, you will definitely think of investing in an FTO analysis. A freedom to operate analysis is a must for you if
- You are operating in a market that is specifically arguable
- You have made a product that cannot be modified anytime soon
- You plan to raise a large financing in which the investors will be putting in large sums at risk by putting in money in your company
- You have flexibility and time to change the product to build around potential barriers that are uncovered
The freedom to operate search analysis can help you protect against being charged with violating another’s patent rights. Having done this analysis will prove that you have done your legal homework and have the expert view that your product or concept does not breach on the identified patents. Just make sure you hire an expert who has sound knowledge of patent filing in India and conducting FTO searches.