Freedom to operate

This is the little known side of the 'Intellectual property' process. Without necessarily intending to register a trademark or file for a patent, it is essential to check whether the planned innovation can simply be used.

Looking ahead

Without necessarily intending to register a trademark or file for a patent, it is essential to check whether the planned innovation can simply be used. This will not be the case if, for example, another company has already filed for a patent regarding the same technical innovation, or regarding another innovation on which that of your company depends. Want a practical example? If you have improved a ball bearing developed by another company, you will not be able to use it under any circumstances if in order to reach this objective you have to use your competitor's innovation. Even if you are not trying to obtain a patent for your innovation.

In this matter, it is once again forward planning that counts: subject to a small investment in consulting quite early on in your innovation chain, you can secure your commercial action and avoid certain unpleasant surprises on the day another company discovers that you have used an improvement of its invention without its agreement.