Freedom –to-operate search is to be conducted before the launch of a product, so that you are aware of the similar patents and non-patent literature’s that may obstruct in the successful launch of your product.
Specific search on patents (expired and running) is performed; the searches are associated with the launched product on defined jurisdiction and then map the product with the claims of the results found.
Freedom-to-operate (FTO) search will include a search of pending patent applications with an eye toward potential future threats. Freedom to Operate (FTO) search is done to determine if we have complete freedom to operate. Meaning, to determine whether one can commercialize or test a product without infringing the Intellectual Property (IP) rights of other products.
Commercialization of infringing products may lead to expensive lawsuits. Hence, an FTO study is an essential task to be carried out before commercializing a product. FTO is conducted by infringement search to locate granted patents, or patent applications. Most companies engage a reputable IP Analytic firm to do this. FTO search helps minimize the risk of getting sued by others, for making the product which infringed the patent rights.
Freedom to operate search should be carried out in the initial stage of product development,so that the inventor do not incur huge cost in developing product which violates the infringing rights.
Patent rights are territorial; FTO search helps in Purchasing patents which are relevant to product, so that inventor gain freedom to operate rights in that territory. For example, if someone has a patent over a specific type of “car” in the UK and not in US, then one can commercialize that “car” in the US without infringing on the UK patent.
The main objective of FTO is to find out whether the product is infringing patent rights of others, search is to be carried out to uncover all the granted patents and patent applications which are not granted yet related to that product. Not granted applications are consider because a published patent application may be granted in future.
FTO helps in obtaining a license from the patent holder for a specific duration of time. This will give the right to operate without infringing the patent rights. It gives the opportunity to redesign the product in such a way that it does not infringe the patent rights. Patent holder can also try the approach of cross licensing of patents to gain mutual benefits.