competitive intelligence: freedom to operate search function

Competitive Intelligence: Freedom-To-Operate Search’s Function

Inventions abound in technology, where each good or service combines unique functional concepts and ideas. In this situation, Freedom-To-Operate search and understanding the proprietary ownership of an organisation’s designs become more critical. Businesses can do precisely that thanks to the freedom-to-operate (FTO) search. This article shows how FTO searches are essential for competitive intelligence and covers every facet.

Summary of Contents

  • Understanding the significance of freedom to conduct searches
  • FTO Search’s Function in Competitive Intelligence
  • Conclusion

Understanding the significance of freedom to conduct searches

As the term implies, FTO is the legal freedom that organisations inherit to commercially make things without being held responsible for third-party patent owners. To limit their competitors’ FTO, corporations strive to protect their inventions across jurisdictions in this crucial aspect of patent protection. Conducting a Freedom-To-Operate search is part of the due diligence needed before creating a product or working on a design.

Through FTO searches, rivals attempt to accomplish the same, making it a crucial component of competitive intelligence. Similar to how it aids businesses in comprehending a specific invention’s commercial and legal liability across many markets and areas.

The six procedures businesses must take while doing FTO searches are listed in the graphic below.

FTO Search’s Function in Competitive Intelligence

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has published comprehensive instructions on what to do before introducing a new product. These recommendations put a lot of emphasis on Freedom -To- Operate search. FTO searches are a crucial component of competitive analysis organisations conduct before releasing new products. Let’s look at a few more details listed below to comprehend this role better:

  • Recognising Non-Practicing Entities (NPEs): These organisations have patents but don’t produce goods using them. These organisations typically do not engage in commercial activity in their particular fields. Therefore, a Freedom-To-Operate search aids in precisely identifying these NPEs to stop companies from violating their patents. This technique of detecting NPEs is vital since, in the USA, these corporations observed a sharp increase in infringement litigation in 2020.
  • Finding Potential Infringement-Producing Nations: Freedom-To-Operate search assists organisations in finding nations where their ideas are most likely to be infringed upon because they cover a wide range of geographic and national locations. These searches can help firms identify the nations or areas where they cannot commercialise their inventions because of active patents.

Before launching an international product, organisations can build more substantial competitive intelligence with this information (countries where the competitor’s patent is either active or abandoned).

  • Searching for expired patents: Like this, Freedom-To-Operate searches assist firms in locating abandoned patents in a specific area. They can use these patents to create marketable technologies on a global scale. With such thorough competitive analysis, organisations can develop items without infringing upon others’ intellectual property.
  • Analysing the Collaboration’s Scope: It’s common for businesses to collaborate when they want to enter a market that a market leader already dominates to avoid problems with patent infringement. FTO also searches for aid companies in their study of the competition. They can use it to determine the extent of associations so that the business and its rival can operate in the same area without violating each other’s intellectual property rights.

            Similar to this, FTO searches assist in determining which patents are active or expired in a particular jurisdiction. A business can choose whether to form a monopoly or work together in a specific jurisdiction by deciding these.

  • Making a List of Active Collaborations: On the other side, FTO searches can assist in locating such partnerships and collaborations if they already exist in a company’s target market or geographic area. FTO searches examine which patents they will use to create novel goods and technology from such alliances. This data forms a crucial component of an organisation’s competitive intelligence.
  • Choosing Which Patents to Consider For Invalidity: Businesses try to invalidate rivals’ patents in the same technological field before launching a new product. As a result, they can defeat the competition and ensure that the entire product launch is a huge success. When organisations strive to invalidate patents that could harm their new products, FTO searches provide crucial due diligence.


An IP-centric organisation can benefit from gathering competition intelligence when developing strategic action plans. Additionally, it assists firms in gaining a deeper understanding of consumer and resource behaviour and the effect of competitors.

FTO search is crucial to this type of competitive intelligence because it shields emerging technological innovations from being used as targets for infringement. Additionally, it assists companies in making respectable profits from their goods and services.

The Freedom-To-Operate Search services offered by Patent search companies allow companies to evaluate possible patent infringement. And schedule the next stage of their technological growth. Our highly qualified IP experts produce thorough search reports that help businesses make wise IP-related decisions.