Before starting developing a product or bringing it to market it is advisable first to establish what possible rights you might risk infringing or might become dependent upon, that is, the degree of freedom that you will have to sell, manufacture, and market the product on markets of interest.
A Freedom-To-Operate (FTO) – or market clearance study aims to do just this. It involves searching databases to find relevant patents and patent applications, and thereafter analysis of the patents and applications to see whether the product will fall within the scope of an application or patent. In addition, the legal status of the patents and applications that surface in the search must be investigated, that is, if the patent is still in force, or if the application is still pending. An FTO investigation can be limited to the geographical areas that are relevant to the product or activity. If disturbing patents are found, the product may need to be changed a bit in order to circumvent the rights, or a license may be required – we provide advices in both cases and carry out FTO investigations for markets of interest. It does not have to relate to a product, as in the above example, but may as well relate to a process, method or service.