6 Things to Think About Before a Freedom to Operate Search

6 Things to Think About Before a Freedom to Operate Search

The patent holder checks to see if you have rights over the technology they hold. Otherwise, you can be violating intellectual property without realising it. A freedom-to-operate search is a search to find information about a particular invention.

The FTO search is important because it helps to avoid any potential lawsuits. It is ideal for conducting a patent clearance search earlier in the innovation phase to ensure that IP and R&D resources are spent the same as an expert. A thorough FTO search will assist you in demonstrating that you followed due care if your business is charged with IP infringement.

Freedom to Operate: What is it?

Using your technology without violating the intellectual property of another is known as “freedom to operate.” By creating a novel technology, designing around the patents of other parties, or leasing or purchasing the rights to the patent(s) your invention infringes on, you can get the freedom to work. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to have complete faith in your right to operate. But, FTO is a legal judgement arrived at after examining space to utilise search results.

Setting Up Your FTO Search Plan

It’s hard to rule out the possibility of a case of infringement completely. Yet, certain circumstances call for a complete freedom of operation search. What do I know now?

Where are you in the innovation process?

An Freedom To Operate search should be conducted several times during the research and development. Your search strategy may change depending on how complete your idea is. You might only look at a few applications because their claims may change if granted a patent.

Your industry’s rate of innovation and the speed at which new inventions are patented will determine how time and in-depth you analyse patent applications as part of your FTO search.

How much are you putting towards the advancement of this technology?

Generally, the more money spent on R&D, the more critical it is to feel secure in your right to operate. But it’s crucial to stop conducting your FTO search once the benefits dwindle. Your FTO search strategy can be more thorough for technologies with lesser investment and potential ROI because more thorough searches demand more resources.

How accepting of risk are you?

Of course, if your company is willing to take the chance about releasing a product into the market without enough knowledge of your freedom to operate, you won’t need to conduct a thorough search. But, it is rarely a good idea to use this tactic. Even risk-tolerant organisations want to avoid being faced with the potential of an infringement lawsuit with proof of due diligence. Very risk-averse businesses will want to spend money on an extensive FTO search at various stages of the innovation process.

Is your industry centred on patents?

There is more pertinent prior art in some businesses than others. A thorough Freedom To Operate (FTO) search is critical if your industry always files patents. You can avoid having an excessive investigation by using specific tactics, such as:

  • Starting with patents held by direct rivals;
  • expanding to inquiries about the entire industry as necessary; and
  • Using a search engine that supports both semantic and Boolean searches.

Does your sector experience a lot of litigation?

Patent infringement litigation is more frequent in some industries, such as consumer goods, biotech, and electronics. Your patent clearance search should be more extensive to safeguard you from an IP infringement lawsuit if your company operates in (or close to) these markets.

Where would you like to work?

Your FTO search technique will change depending on where you wish to operate and market your invention. Depending on the kind of product or procedure you’re interested in commercialising, you can only search a few principal patent offices, such as the USPTO and EPO. You should broaden your search if you want more assurance or global development.