Patent arms race
One of the speakers at the IPBusiness Congress in Amsterdam in late June was Peter Spours from TomTom.
Peter described how TomTom’s recent rapid growth has made them a target for patent suits from many fronts. (Marshall Phelps, David Kappos and others were no doubt saying ‘welcome to my world’.)
Peter then described how they went searching for patents to countersue on, and finding nothing (at all) in their own patent portfolio, identified and acquired some patents, counter-sued, and ultimately forced settlement.
So, here’s the question – should you do a full freedom to operate analysis before you sue someone for infringement of one of your own patents? If you find something (not owned by your intended defendant), should you acquire it or at least make a call about the likelihood that the third party would transfer or licence it to your intended defendant?
(Sure, the trite answer is to always be doing freedom to operate analyses and be fully aware of the patent landscape, but that is simply not practical in every situation.)