Design Around Guidance

Freedom to Operate – Design Around Guidance.

When a potentially problematic patent claim is found, the risk of patent problems may be reduced by making changes to the proposed product or service. The costs and delay from making changes are less if the potential problem is found early in the design cycle. This is a good reason for doing a preliminary freedom-to-operate search early in the design cycle. In certain situations, the patent landscape may be so crowded that it makes sense to seek a license or simply buy a particular product from a licensed source rather than venture down a path which is likely to lead to litigation.

When doing work to design around an existing patent claim so that the revised product or service lacks at least one required element from the patent claim, it is prudent to look to see whether the competitor with the problematic claim can react to your proposed change. In other words, can the competitor use existing applications or recently issued patents to make the proposed design-around infringe a new patent claim? If so, that design-around is not a long-term solution and another solution should be sought.