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Freedom-to-Operate (FTO)

(aka Freedom-to-Practice (FTP), Right-to-Use, Right-to-Market, Product Clearance, Patent Due Diligence, or Infringement searches)

When should I conduct an FTO search?

FTO searches are typically conducted before developing new products or acquiring another company with an existing product line.  The goal of an FTO search is to identify any active patents which may subject your company to patent infringement liability.  Legal costs and damages for infringing on someone else's intellectual property can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and is often much higher.

How is an FTO search conducted?

Working from the details of your products, our FTO search will focus on the claims of unexpired patents and published patent applications to identify any which may prove to be liability problems. Expired intellectual property can also be included in an FTO search to identify any patent claims which may protect you from future legal actions.

FTO searches also have a geographic focus.  Where are you planning on marketing your new or acquired products?  If it is only in a single country, the FTO search need only look for active patents in that country.  If, on the other hand, you plan on marketing these products in multiple countries, then the FTO search must cover active patents in all of these countries.

What is in an FTO report?

An FTO report provides the following:

  • an overview of our search methodology including a combination of key terms and relevant
    patent classifications

  • details about the search findings (claims which potentially pose liability risks will be highlighted)

  • details about all relevant patents including links to available full image patents

  • our non-legal opinion as to whether you have clearance in the selected countries


How long does an FTO search take?

Delivery times for FTO search reports can range from 5 business days to multiple weeks depending on the details and complexity of your request.

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