Burr & Forman

12.9.2020   |   Articles / Publications

“Supply Chain Disruptions Create Potential Patent Issues,” Supply & Demand Chain Executive

As reductions in revenue and workforce stemming from COVID-19 have reduced productivity for many companies that supply crucial materials and products to downstream manufacturers, Ryan Corbett authored the December 5 article for Supply & Demand Chain Executive highlighting important patent considerations for manufacturers taking matters into their own hands to fill supply gaps.

Many manufacturers who have found themselves struggling to acquire components needed to continue production have begun manufacturing the components they used to purchase from suppliers or re-designing their products to avoid the need for said components. This creates the risk of infringing upon a third party’s patent rights, such as a former supplier or an unknown patent owner that may file suit.

“To reduce the risk of becoming entangled in an expensive patent infringement lawsuit, manufacturers should consider obtaining a freedom to operate opinion from a patent attorney,” Corbett said. “ A freedom to operate opinion includes a search of patents that may be similar to the product or component being considered and may be particularly focused on patents owned by known suppliers in a particular industry.” This helps to insulate the manufacturer from claims of willful infringement, and is an important first step to mitigate risk and avoid costly litigation and settlements.

Of course, developing new products and design also present business opportunities. Once the appropriate steps are taken to ensure the manufacturer is not infringing upon a prior patent, they can benefit from protecting the new design and creating a new revenue stream.

For the full article, please click here.

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