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Freedom to Operate(FTO)
Freedom to Operate Search or Patent Clearance Search is a Comprehensive search conducted on issued patents and pending applications to make sure that a proposed product does not infringe any in-force patents. Alternatively, if infringement exists, the client will be aware of it and can make any of following business decision.
1) Initiate a Patent Invalidity Search on the patent in question,
2) Initiate design-around activities, or
3)Consider licensing the technology at issue.
Since Intellectual Property(IP) rights are specific to different jurisdictions, a "freedom to operate" analysis should relate to particular countries or regions where you want to operate. If you want to commercialize a new variety of pen in your own country, for example, you might have complete freedom to operate if there are no patents, the process used to make it or the way you wish to market it, in your country.
However, you might not have the same freedom to operate if you want to export same pen to another country, where patents or other IP rights may have been issued covering the pen, method of making, etc.
The Freedom to Operate Search further extends a Patent Infringement Search by also determining where in the world the technology may be used or protected. A patent that blocks introduction of a product in one country may not have a counterpart patent in other commercially desirable countries.
When we are not able to avoid a patent that is blocking your patent one cheapest alternative is finding a patent which is already in public domain and is having claims similar to our invention so that we can always say that since invention is in public domain all of us are free to use.