Freedom-To-Operate Expert Opinion

Before investors invest in the production of a product, they usually have an FTO report drawn up on the product in question. Companies with good intellectual property management (IP management) proceed in a similar way during product development. Even during this process, FTO opinions are obtained on the prospective end product. This is not done without reason!

Sense and purpose of an FTO opinion

An FTO opinion permits a risk assessment as to whether one's own product infringes the industrial property rights (patents, utility models, trade marks and/or designs) of third parties. This risk assessment has a direct and considerable influence on the economic value of a product. If a competitor prohibits the production, offering or marketing of a developed product on the basis of its patent, asserts claims for damages or demands the recall and destruction of the products, this can possibly mean the economic ruin of the company.

Incidentally, this applies irrespective of whether the company itself has applied for property rights for the product or has granted or registered property rights for the product.

What is in an FTO report?

An FTO opinion essentially consists of two parts: The FTO search and the evaluation of these search results by a patent attorney.

In the FTO search, the decisive features of the product are first defined. On the basis of these features, a search is then carried out to determine which IP rights or IP applications could be relevant for the product. The search results are then analysed by the trained eye of the patent attorney. The search results are evaluated in particular with regard to the risk of infringement. Often, potential workarounds can already be identified at this point. Based on the FTO opinion, it is ultimately up to the company management to decide whether the product is to be manufactured or launched on the market, or whether design changes need to be made beforehand.


In summary, FTO opinions are part of the standard of sustainable corporate governance and good IP management. FTO opinions form the basis of successful and safe product development, market launch and product exploitation.

Do you have questions about FTO opinions or do you need an assessment yourself as to whether your product may infringe third-party IP rights? Please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to support you.