What is a Clearance Search, or Freedom-to-Operate Search?
A clearance search, or freedom-to-operate search is a search of issued and valid patents to determine if your specific product infringes someone else’s patent. It is very time consuming (expensive) to analyze the claims in many patents, and therefore this is not a very common search that is performed.
However, the cost is warranted when substantial amounts of money are going to be invested in rolling out a new product. In those cases, it can be helpful to conduct the clearance search early enough in the product development phase so that we can design around any patents which are a problem. This also allows you the chance to pull the plug on the product before incurring any additional expenses if designing around problematic patents is not possible (either from a design or marketing position).
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