Manual Freedom At All Costs

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FTO analysis involves identifying and analyzing the patents of others that may subject your company to patent-infringement liability.

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By performing FTO analysis before developing and launching a new product or before acquiring a new company, your company can limit the risk of future litigation and avoid unnecessary expense. FTO analysis done early in the cycle of product development affords companies the opportunity either to modify the design and avoid infringement before reaching the point of no return, or to take a license. As a side benefit, FTO studies can identify opportunities for patenting or further development.

Similarly, performing FTO analysis as part of due diligence may allow you to steer clear of an opportunity fraught with the danger of litigation. FTO analysis begins with an assessment of the product or service. Are any of them subject to existing licenses? Are any components developed by others or under agreements that may include indemnification clauses? Will the product or service vary from country to country?

Concurrently, a clearance search is performed for unexpired patents and published applications that may claim the various components. Finally, an experienced patent attorney should evaluate the information and provide an opinion on the risks of going forward with the product, service, or acquisition. It is important to understand that FTO analysis can never guarantee that your company will not be sued.

The patents and applications identified will depend on the quality of the search, and the degree of relevance of each patent or application will be subject to interpretation. Some applications by others may be on file but unpublished at the time of the search and therefore not considered as part of the study. Since FTO studies can be time-consuming and costly, most companies choose when and where to perform FTO analysis to minimize risk and maximize value. What factors should drive the decision? As a first step, a company should consider the product or service being launched or acquired in terms of its value to the company.

What is the existing or projected revenue? Is this a high-profit item or low-margin product? Products with high margin or high volume are most likely to lead to high damage awards if a patent-infringement case goes to trial. Therefore it will often be worth it to take the extra step and clear the product before proceeding.

Products in this category include, for example, televisions or cell phones. If a company has limited dollars to spend for clearance, products can at least be initially ranked in terms of value. For products requiring less investment, FTO analysis may be deferred until nearer to the end of the project, but it should still be performed before release. The danger of waiting until the product is fully developed lies in a simple fact: By then the business units will be champing at the bit to release the product, and an early release may result in litigation that was avoidable.

If your company is preparing to launch a product or service in these kinds of competitive markets, getting an FTO analysis beforehand is a no-brainer. Even in other markets, if you are preparing a high-profile launch of a new product or service, you should be prepared to find yourself in the crosshairs and proceed accordingly by identifying risk before launch.

Today, we have access to many search tools that can determine if a particular product class is highly litigated. For example, a Lex Machina search for litigations over the last 10 years shows that, after pharmaceutical drugs, the next most active areas involve computers, cell phones, and communications, including data handling via the Internet. In their own but a related category are products or services using data security or encryption. Not far behind are consumer electronics, such as televisions and video games.

What is notable from this search is the significantly smaller number of litigations involving household goods and toys. Sabeer Bhatia and I sat on one end of the table and the Microsoft CFO sat at the other side flanked by his extensive entourage. That is our final offer. The Microsoft team hemmed and hawed. Rather than allowing us to leave, the Microsoft lawyer escorted us both into a small conference room where we were expected to rethink our decision.

It was a little weird. John, Steve, Rex and Jack stayed behind. None of them wanted the deal to die.


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Meanwhile back in the big boardroom, John Fisher took over masterfully. Greg told John that he would no longer deal with Sabeer, Steve or me in the negotiation. I guess we seemed irrational.

Ptsd, The Price Of Freedom

John cleared it with Sabeer and boarded the plane just before the door shut. We agreed not to say what Microsoft paid for the company, but it was in stock. Sabeer and I were still a little steamed from the drama, but we were also a little relieved that the deal came together. In looking back, I realize that those 20 Microsoft big wigs were not going to leave empty-handed, so we might have been able to hold out for more, but lucky for us, the Microsoft stock quadrupled over the next year, so holding out for stock turned out to be the right decision for our investors.

And it worked out well for Microsoft too. Bill Gates has said that the best purchase he ever made was Hotmail. Hotmail reached million users around the world, helped Microsoft market all its other products to all the new Hotmail users, and we helped make freedom ring around the world.

Viral marketing and the implied endorsement spread Hotmail broadly. Many companies followed suit. Yahoomail, G-mail, and many others have spread web-based email to reach over 3 billion people nearly half the world.

Find The Cost Of Freedom - Crosby Stills & Nash

The free product made an enormous impact on the world. People became closer, better connected, and had more freedom because they could now email anyone anywhere for free. Communications around the world was now free. Hotmail even helped several countries free their people. Viral marketing provided companies like Facebook, Twitter and Skype the ability to spread global communication too. Nearly the entire world is connected, and I believe that a new chapter of freedom and prosperity around the world is happening. When communications are combined with all the shared information we get from search engines like Google and Baidu, all the people of the world will have similar footing when they look to become productive.

An entrepreneur in Tel Aviv will have access to similar information and communications tools available to an entrepreneur in The Silicon Valley, or Jakarta, or Accra. I have made it a part of my practice to apply viral techniques to help companies spread their products, and I believe that it gives those companies a competitive edge in attracting and acquiring customers cheaply and rapidly.

If a product is spread more quickly and easily, the entropy of a great product happens faster, and we all benefit from the new way of life the product offers. Ultimately, viral marketing has the effect of leveling the playing field, because when there is a breakthrough, it spreads so fast that anyone with a computing device gets it.

The Cost of Freedom () - IMDb

For the Startup Hero, this new fast spreading virus of information and products creates both an opportunity and a dilemma. If word spreads so quickly around the world, the startup needs to get its product out before the competitors do. But it also means the Startup Hero needs to be more innovative than the other people in his or her industry.

New product ideas are transitory.

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People create new modifications to whatever is the state-of-the-art of the times. Since they all have access to the same information, they can all innovate from there. Hundreds of companies now use viral marketing to distribute a wide variety of product categories. Any product that is communications based uses viral marketing. Facebook and Snapchat use viral marketing to share photos.

The founders of Skype implemented several viral elements in growing their audio business and even more when Skype video was introduced.

The Cost of Freedom

I was fascinated by the new peer to peer technology that allowed people to share files. I met with Napster, Streamcast, and Grokster as I searched the industry. I had gotten the distinct impression that the file sharing business was pretty much crushed by a powerful and litigious music industry, but I was pretty sure there would be other applications to this revolutionary technology. I read in the paper that the guys from Kazaa, another file sharing music business were selling the business and looking to do something new with file sharing technology. I put it in my head to make sure I found out what they were up to.

Later, I heard the company was starting in London. My dad hired Howard Hartenbaum to scout for companies in Europe for his venture business. I first met Howard at an ETRE conference in Seville, where we discussed the venture business generally while we were on a bus going from one venue to another. He had just joined Dad and wanted to get a feel for what I looked for when I invested.

I gave him some advice, and suggested that he run down a few leads of businesses I had seen at the conference. The founders of Kazaa you asked me to look at have something called Skyper and I think they are on to something. So I flew out to London to meet with Niklas Zennstrom. We met in a London pub and started discussing his new idea. The idea was that Skyper would use peer to peer file sharing technology to allow people to share wi-fi signals.

I was so excited, I committed on the spot. Instead of doing shared wi-fi, we have decided to take on the phone companies and make these peer to peer packets into a vehicle to transport voice calls. I came back to my partnership to plead my case and was shot down. The team changed the name to Skype and the peer to peer free calls were a hit.

The Price of Freedom Essay

The company would give free calls to anyone who had signed up for Skype and charge for calls, both incoming and outgoing, that came from outside the network. The service was taking off, and they had over three million users and were running about , simultaneous audio calls. Skype was now a hot ticket.