Freedom to Operate (FTO) or Clearance Search
Purpose & Use
The Freedom to Operate (FTO) search or a clearance search is performed to identify the companies or the organizations and their respective patents which can obstruct the commercialization of patent in question in geography of interest. If there exist any obstructing patents, the company can negotiate or in-license the overlapping patented technology before launching the product to avoid the infringement later. In general, this type of search is conducted before launching a product in the geographical area of interest to ensure that the launched product does not infringe any patented technology later. The best results from freedom to operate search will be granted patent overlapping with technology of interest. The published (pending patents) and expired patents are also given in results to ensure comprehensive reporting.
Process & Reporting
In FTO search, the process of searching for patents is carried out on commercial databases, like Patbase or Thomson Innovation. The focus must be on claims of a patent and search is restricted to geography of interest. The results are arranged in a well documented format. The legal status of the respective results are also provided so that one can clearly notice whether the patent is in force, published, pending or already expired.
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