What is Infringement Search?
An infringement search, also known as a freedom to operate (FTO) search, refers to the review process where a person analyzes the viability of being able to sell a product or idea without breaching existing patents. Although similar to a patent search, where a user searches for existing intellectual property (IP), FTO searches go further by specifically checking for conditions and instances that could present potential contract violations.
With the innovation landscape being so competitive, it’s crucial to minimize potential obstacles. Much like how pilots perform a safety check prior to take-off, an infringement search looks for impediments that could obstruct the innovation process and cause loss of revenue and effort. This is especially important considering the short amount of time for a patent application (18 months), as there’s not a lot of buffer space in which to recover from mistakes.
Why is an Infringement Search Important?
An infringement search is important primarily because it catches potential patent contract breaches at the earliest possible stage. Instead of putting in months of effort from multiple teams only to discover all that work led to a dead end, an infringement search sets teams on the right path from the beginning.
Consider the very costly setbacks that could occur without this step, such as legal action on patent infringement. Not only would work done up to that point potentially be discarded entirely, but there are the costs and diverted productions needed to deal with the lawsuit, as well as more hours needed to start on a new path — which would also require the aid of those qualified in law, adding perhaps more employees than initially budgeted for.
When formulating a business plan where costs are minimized and revenue is maximized, an infringement search can help save a lot of money down the line that can be used to enhance work on the initial idea instead of losing it on potential infringements.