Freedom to Operate (FTO) Search

Freedom to Operate (FTO) Search

Freedom to Operate (FTO) Search: Patents are an extremely important component of the system that governs Intellectual Property Rights and are responsible for the protection of IP rights. A privilege that may be awarded for an invention, which may be a product or a process that provides, in general, or offers a new technical solution to a problem, is called a patent. A patent may be granted for an invention. In order to obtain a patent for an innovation, the applicant must first make the technical details of that invention available to the public through a patent application. However, it is important to keep in mind that patent litigation may be a financially burdensome, hazardous, and risky business. As the old adage goes, “prevention is better than cure.”

Therefore, there is a significant danger involved whenever a company, organization, corporation, or any individual has the intention of developing a new product and introducing it to the market. This is especially true in technology industries that deal with a high number of patents. Because of this, many businesses make an effort early on to ensure their “freedom to operate,” also known as FTO. This means that they try to make certain that the commercial production, marketing, and use of any new products, processes, or services they develop do not infringe on the property rights of any third parties, therefore, an freedom to operate (FTO) analysis is essentially an infringement analysis, helping patent applicants to freely operate.

Freedom-to-Operate (FTO) search
Freedom-to-Operate (FTO) search

The ability to conduct business in a particular jurisdiction without infringing on the intellectual property rights of others is referred to as “freedom to operate.” After determining that no active patents are being infringed upon or are otherwise in force, freedom to operate can then be granted. It gives the business or a person the ability to manufacture and sell products without infringing on the rights given by any active patents that are currently in effect.

About Freedom to Operate (FTO) Search

A patent-eligible product must be unique, inventive, and have industrial use. However, the mere possession of a patent is not a guarantee that a person will not violate the patent of another firm. Nonetheless, a novelty search has demonstrated that after an invention fits the fundamental conditions for a patent, one can continue to consider the remainder of the market. To gain insight into this market, there is the option to control search. Freedom to Practice search is also known as Patent Clearance search, Right to utilise search, and Freedom To operate search.

No matter what, the objective is always the same. Which is to identify if a product or technique infringes on any of the claims in issued patents or pending patent applications. It helps determine whether your product or method infringes on existing patents, regardless of whether the product or process exists or is still in development (or is just an idea). Ultimately, an FTO search enables an inventor or corporation to determine in advance whether a patent exists for a product or procedure that is identical to their own. One can obtain freedom to operate by developing a wholly original technology, invalidating or opposing relevant patents, or licensing or acquiring the rights to the patent(s) their technology infringes.

The following procedures are commonly involved in an evaluation of an FTO:

  • Determine which aspects of the product will be evaluated;
  • Carry out a patent search using the product’s characteristics as the basis; and
  • Examine the patent claims in light of the product features in order to form an evaluation and convey your findings to the relevant stakeholders.

Relevance of FTO search

A strong FTO patent search may allow a creator or company the option to construct a design-around early within the development phase, before huge amounts of time and/or cash are invested into a product or process. At the same time, an FTO search can also indicate adjustments to licence existing technology, which aids in saving time and lowering the danger of litigation procedures, and for a select inventors or companies, usually start-ups, an FTO search might allow founders to have trust in their idea and aid in procuring finance from probable investors.

When a company plans to create and sell a new product, a big danger, especially in technological sectors with extensive patenting, is that commercialization may be stopped by a competitor holding a patent for a technology incorporated into the product. This is why, at an early stage, many companies strive to guarantee their “freedom to operate,” i.e., to ensure that the commercial manufacturing, marketing, and usage of their new product, process, or service does not infringe on the IP rights of others.

The costs of patent litigation are typically rather high, and the amount of time required to get a decision is also quite considerable. Because conducting an FTO analysis in advance presents the possibility of calculating the likelihood of infringing a patent in advance, it is recommended that this step be taken as soon as possible in the process of beginning a new project.

A correct FTO analysis on its own cannot measure the probability of avoiding patent infringement litigation; however, it would open up new business opportunities by revealing the number of opportunities in the field of technologies within the market, and it would also help to reduce the risk of infringing on the rights of third parties. Therefore, conducting a search to determine whether or not a company has the “freedom to operate” not only helps to prevent patent infringement, but it also makes it easier to run a business securely and reveals the patent rights of third parties that could be infringed upon if the company starts doing business.

Therefore, an FTO search is basically an infringement analysis to thoroughly analysis the infringement status. The search for FTOs is therefore an essential component of such competitive intelligence since it eliminates the risk of new technological innovations being infringed upon. In addition to this, it assists companies in generating a healthy revenue from the sales of their products and services.

How an FTO Search differs from Patentability (Novelty) Search

An FTO and a patentability search may appear to have little in common at first glance, but there is a significant distinction between the two that is often overlooked and is of considerable importance to businesses. A search for patentability is carried out to determine whether or not a new invention offers any advantages over previously known methods.

On the other hand, the goal of an FTO search is to identify the likelihood that a product infringes on the patent of a third party as well as the mechanism by which this might occur. The mere possession of a patent right, which falls under the category of negative rights, does not in and of itself confer the freedom to access the market. This indicates that a patent is not a guarantee that there will be no infringement of the rights of third parties, which is precisely why it is necessary to do a search or study about the freedom to operate.

If you already have a patent, do you still need to conduct an FTO search?

Absolutely, and this is especially true if you are planning to sell your own product. The ownership of patent rights does not provide any assurance that your product will not violate the existing or future patent rights of a third party and this is when your FTO helps you determine the position of your patent. Even though your product may have some innovative characteristics, it is still possible for it to infringe on technology that are patented by other companies.

Our Approach – Freedom-to-Operate (FTO) search

IIPRD offers a proven competence in conducting such Freedom-to-Operate (FTO) search and delivering relevant results with an exclusive section for Key Feature Mapping. IIPRD has been regularly supporting large High-technology and Pharmaceutical Clients for FTO searches in geographies such as EP, UK, US, CA, and India, among other geographies for which our team utilizes the best-Paid Patent and Non-Patent databases for conducting the searches.

Our experience and expertise in the interpretation of patent documents during infringement suits enables us to analyze patents with the right perspective to provide insightful opinions on the freedom to operate for your innovations.