Freedom to Operate", abbreviated "FTO", is usually used to mean determining whether a particular action, such as testing or commercializing a product, can be done without infringing valid intellectual property rights of others.

Since IP rights are specific to different jurisdictions, a "freedom to operate" analysis should relate to particular countries or regions where you want to operate. Determining whether there is freedom to operate in any particular jurisdiction is a major reason why patent databases are so important.

If there are valid intellectual property rights of others that would be infringed by the action you want to take, you may be able to obtain freedom to operate with respect to any one of those rights by negotiating for a license with the owner of the IP rights.