Patent Search

Patent Searches: Freedom-to-Operate (FTO)

Patent SearchMany times an inventor can find that while they may have a patentable invention, “operating” the invention relies on the use of the inventions of others. In such situations, a licensing arrangement is the typical way to proceed. However, what if one doesn’t know whether they have freedom to operate or not? What if an entrepreneur has prior-user rights, but is not sure about the scope or jurisdiction of protection? What if an entrepreneur doesn’t even know that someone else has IP rights on aspects of an innovation one is trying to market? An FTO search provides clarity on the path that lies ahead – whether it is clear, or whether it has obstacles one has to factor into the economic and logistic aspects of the venture. Patent drafting and patent analysis can benefit greatly from making a patent search for freedom to operate.


In situations involving a product or process that is intended to be marketed and sold regardless of patentability, it is strongly recommended that an FTO search and opinion are obtained from a registered patent practitioner. An FTO opinion is based on a search-result report, and provides the inventor/entrepreneur with a legal document stating whether the product or process infringes any patented subject matter in the report. In the case of a later legal dispute, such an opinion can provide protection from trebling of any claimed damages. Contact us to find out more about FPIP patent searches.


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