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Freedom to operate: clearance for technology, patents and innovation

As the marketplace becomes more crowded and the number of patents filed on an annual basis continues to increase, the process of analysing freedom to operate for new technology – in particular in emerging markets, such as China – becomes more complicated to achieve. However, in most cases, it can be risky to attempt to bring an innovation to market without first conducting a freedom-to-operate search, as such products (and their patents) may be vulnerable to infringement suits, potentially resulting in costly litigation procedures and/or forcing the company to withdraw a product from the market altogether.

This is a basic introduction to freedom-to-operate searching. For further information on the process of obtaining or enforcing patents or to read more about Novagraaf’s services, including patent drafting, prior art searching, and litigation support, click here for our services overview page. To contact one of our attorneys or to review their expertise in your sector, click here.

Freedom to operate: Patent searching services

A patent does not in itself give its holder the right to exploit the invention; for example, the innovation may incorporate technology or represent an improved version of an invention that has been protected previously as a patent by another party. Novagraaf’s freedom-to-operate search (also known as a market clearance search) helps companies to detect third-party patents that may hinder an invention’s commercial exploitation and provides clients with insight into the current state of the art, so that they can tailor their filing strategies accordingly.

By identifying conflicting patents early on in the technology development process, companies are able to reduce the risk of launching a product with features that infringe a third-party’s rights. A freedom-to-operate search also helps to identify third parties who may need to be approached for a licence early in the product and technology development process.

Freedom to operate: Patent watching services

Novagraaf works with its clients to develop cost-effective freedom-to-operate searches by focusing on the key technology and markets of interest to them. By aligning such searches with their innovation pipelines, and IP and business strategies, companies are able to help ensure that their investment in research and development (R&D) is able to pay off once the products reach the market.

Coupled with a prior art (state-of-the-art) search, freedom-to-operate analysis enables clients to define their innovation more clearly (by taking the existing state of the art into account) and to identify potential partners (or competitors), as well as any paths of research relating to the invention’s technology that have already been explored.

Freedom to operate: further information

You can find out more about freedom-to-operate searching and the processes for obtaining, maintaining and enforcing patents by speaking to one of our patent attorneys. Alternatively, contact our customer support team, using the contact form at the top right of this page.