Freedom to Operate (FTO) search is an imperative due diligence step to be performed for any organization during the early research stage of product/technology development, or prior to commercialization of a product or technology.

A Freedom to Operate (FTO) search involves conducting a search of patent literature for issued or pending patent publications, and obtaining a legal opinion on whether or not a product, process or technology may be considered to be infringing existing patent(s) owned by others. A Freedom to Operate search is also known as Clearance search, Infringement search, Third party right search or Right to use study.

Getting a Freedom to Operate search will open up avenues for licensing, designing around patented features, or getting the go-ahead to commercialize the product or technology.

SciTech Patent Art conducts Freedom to Operate searches to answer questions such as the following:

Do you see any obstacles in my commercialization plan? If so, what are my commercialization options?

SciTech Patent Art conducts a Freedom to Operate / Right-to-Use / Infringement study for our clients before they launch a new product / technology in a new market to assess infringement risks or to identify licensing opportunities. It could also be used to understand if a competitor’s product /process is infringing your own Intellectual Property (IP). Such studies are business-critical as they directly impact the IP strategy adopted. Hence, a high level of expertise is required from the search service provider. SciTech Patent Art’s scientists are experts in Freedom to Operate / Infringement studies. We thoroughly analyze patent claims, compare the product / technology in question against the claims of active patents and provide our technical assessment. Our reports are typically accompanied by visuals that help you understand the rationale for our assessment. During the whole analysis stage, we work closely with you to ensure that we understand your needs.

Our Methodology for a Freedom to Operate Search:

An effective Freedom to Operate study is conducted by collecting and analyzing information during the initiation of the study. The quality of the information gathered plays an important role in making the study effective. SciTech Patent Art has been conducting Freedom to Operate searches for over two decades and has developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), including unique approaches that often result in identifying good prior-art and potential blocking patents. Our Standard Operating Procedure includes:

  • Spend significant time early on to understand the technology in detail
  • Identify key features of the product / process
  • Develop multiple search strategies using appropriate keywords and classification codes
  • Conduct multiple searches across various databases
  • Screen search results based on well-defined criteria to identify most relevant documents
  • Analyze and categorize documents as per relevancy and verify legal status
  • Provide comprehensive and intuitive report with technical analysis

Report format of a Freedom to Operate search:

Our typical Freedom to Operate search report is in an Excel format that includes –

  • Project Methodology – Project description along with key features identified for the search, screening criteria and technical fields for analysis
  • Search Strategies – Multiple search strategies are formulated based on appropriate keywords, CAS registry numbers, EC numbers and classification codes (CPC, IPC)
  • Relevant patents – The highly relevant/peripheral references identified are presented in the report with bibliographic details and claim-based technical analysis. Legal status of all family members of most relevant/peripheral documents are also included.
    The relevant patents are classified into two categories:

    • Category A: Highly relevant patents to the disclosed technology, based on the main / independent claim of the claimed invention
    • Category B: Peripheral patents which deviate from the disclosed technology, based on the main / independent claim of the claimed invention

We also provide custom reports to our clients based on their specific requirements. For example, a PowerPoint report with visual representation of a technical analysis and claim charts of relevant references are included.

Why SciTech Patent Art?

  • For over 20 years, our team of searchers have been conducting Freedom to Operate searches for clients worldwide.
  • Our team of searches are subject-matter experts across wide range of disciplines in science and engineering.
  • Our searchers are well-versed with patent laws of different jurisdictions.
  • Our Interactive and tailored work process ensures frequent interactions, and is flexible to change direction as needed.
  • We provide follow-on services as needed.
  • We work as per the needs of our client’s timeline, and offer pricing to fit their budget as well.

Examples of Deliverables


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