What is a Non-Infringement Search?

A non-infringement search also known as freedom to operate search is the assessment of the commercialization of a specific product so that it can be securely introduced in the market. A non-infringement search is conducted in order to check whether the product being launched is in accordance with the third party intellectual property rights or not. A product/technology non-infringement search can be carried forward at any phase during the life cycle of a product to estimate the flow of development. A non-infringement search is a new and different approach to ascertain if a new product/technology is worthy of obtaining a patent or not.

An FTO analysis is performed to comprehensively study each and every element of the product that has to be commercialized. Every element attached to the product is inspected to look for any unlicensed intellectual property and tangible property of third parties. Once the results of the FTO analysis performed are obtained, a prior FTO opinion is outlined by a patent council. The FTO opinion outlined reflects the range of infringement of the IP rights attached to the product.

Labeled patents such as non-infringement and FTO are furnished by an authorized patent attorney. This helps in avoiding the infringement of various unexpired, valid, and enforceable patents. In a non-infringement search, initially, the jurisdiction is selected in which the product to be patented will be sold. After selection of the jurisdiction for the product, the features and details of the product are evaluated and a patentability research is conducted. After this, the expiration date of the patents is estimated and the reason behind its expiration is stated i.e. whether it expired because of its age or the product owner’s failure to pay the maintenance fee. In cases where the labeled patents are not expired, a detailed analysis is made which reflects if the patent will cause any kind of problem in the patenting process of the product, service, or technology. The major advantage of a non-infringement search is that it helps in eliminating the litigation cost involved.

To eliminate the cost of development at later stages of the product life-cycle, a non-infringement search must be conducted at the pre-development stages. A non-infringement search or an FTO analysis should be practiced by every technology company before launching their product in the market to avoid the breach of infringement leading to expensive lawsuits and frame schemes and espouse policies in order to obtain patents in the desired territory.