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Freedom-to-Operate
(FTO) for Your Product

In Countries of Your Choice

Systematic FTO

Systematic FTO (as opposed to unspecific landscape FTOs) with defined milestones and a calculated risk/level of confidence for not infringing patents of third parties.

The calculated risk/level of confidence can be increased in well-defined steps in order to match your budget.

The first step into your FTO costs SGD 5,000. Flat. And we deliver our reliable result in less than ten (10) working days. Done by professionally trained and officially licensed patent attorneys.

Why Systematic FTO?

Get Reliable Risk Calculations & Confidence!

Our Systematic FTO is the only way to go because the alternative – ‘Colourful’ Landscape FTOs – will often burn you! Landscape FTOs can only give you some random hits and despite sometimes even surfacing some relevant patents but this comes not close to a systematic approach.

There is no way that you can increase your level of confidence after having done a landscape FTO. The quality of these hand-crafted bespoken artworks depends largely on the experience and skills of the person who does that landscape FTO. And eventually, what you get is a set of expensive and colourful cookie-cutter slides with impressive but useless Claim Charts that give you an expensive and false sense of security.

Our systematic FTO follows a strict strategy that leads to scalable success with full cost control.

What Makes a Systematic FTO?

You Provide:

    • Short product description in any language
    • Product Figures
    • Highlighted features that are in the foreground
    • One or more countries of interest
    • List of your immediate competitors
 
We also have a questionnaire that we use to guide you along the way, and we can support you in preparing the answers to our questions as we begin with the FTO exercise for you.

We Deliver:

The Systematic FTO is delivered in Phases. That allows for a systematic approach with iteratively increased security, and costs are kept under control.

– In a first step, we identify one or more patent publications that come close to your product. Quite often, this results in a “Safe Harbour” FTO result that shows you what you are allowed to do, for example because  this is disclosed in earlier patents that have lapsed.
– From there, we develop a detailed strategic plan for increasing your security from “groping in the dark” to “we know exactly where we stand”, with calculated risk and a Level of Confidence Score.

Deliverables:

– A first FTO result which is based on the initial search results that we use for developing the detailed strategic plan.
– A clear plan with defined milestones for systematic searches for relevant patents, thereby providing defined chunks of patent data to be searched in iterative steps, together with the costs for each step.
– A structured description of your product in the form of a ready-to-file provisional patent application with claims and figure description.

We will typically request for your input to identify from the search results publications that are relevant for your product.

Costs: SGD 5,000 flat fee (+GST)

Most clients stop here because they are satisfied with the Level of Confidence Score that is provided after running through Phase 1 of the project. 

While in the early development stages of a product only a limited Freedom-to-Operate (“FTO”)  is needed, an increased security is required towards the release of the final product.

Only a systematic FTO allows you to build up further security as you move up on the technology-readiness-level (“TRL”) of your product, while keeping the costs under tight control.

Further chunks according the strategic plan that has been developed in Phase 1 are done here. 

Deliverables:

– A detailed and comprehensive FTO result which is based on the further searches done
– An updated Level of Confidence Score for your FTO

Costs: a guaranteed flat-fee amount that depends on the required Level of Confidence, determined before we start with Phase 2 

A good Freedom-to-Operate study is a very useful tool for innovative endeavours.

The FTO result will not only give you confidence when bringing a new product to the market. An FTO will also surface previously unknown competitors and you get insights into designing around their existing patents where necessary.

You can develop the provisional patent application from Phase 1 of the FTO into a useful patent that blocks your competition for the future and that puts you on top of the value chain.

You can also install a regular patent watch as a market radar that keeps you informed about what your competition is doing.

There are endless opportunities that you can pursue with your FTO result.

FAQs

Get your questions answered.

Curious about our services? Find the questions to your answers here.

FTO refers to whether it is commercially safe for you to sell your product in a country, without infringing existing third-party rights.

Perhaps there are patents owned by others, with potential infringement risk.

Perhaps the country has strict laws and requirements.

Perhaps the industry has tough compliance regulations.

Perhaps your product comes with a liability that no one wants to shoulder.

These are all aspects of FTO, and our Systematic FTO helps you to address the patent infringement side of it. We can also help you to solve the other FTO issues, and the Systematic FTO is the first step towards having a greater security and confidence in what you plan to do.

Freedom-to-Operate (“FTO”) determines if you can do what you want to do. There are many potential obstacles to your freedom-to-operate. An important area is IP infringement, where you run into somebody else’s patents or trademarks.

The Systematic FTO is a safe and predictable way increase your level of confidence as the Technology Readiness Level  (“TRL”) of your product evolves. 

The systematic FTO follows a strict strategy that leads to scalable success with full cost control.

An FTO search is entirely different from a prior art search for patentability: we need to make sure that we do not overlook any relevant patent or patent application.

For the FTO, we need to know much more than what we know today: we need to widen our view and look for relevant applicants, inventor names and IPC patent classes that are related to your product.

After we have identified the relevant search filter, we can find out the number of potentially relevant patents and patent applications over the past 18.5 years (18.5 years because the maximum life spam of a patent is 20 years and because it takes 18 months from filing to publication).

Once we know the number of potentially relevant patents and patent applications that we need to evaluate, we develop a strategic plan for a full FTO evaluation that covers 100% of the picture.

Landscape FTOs are often used by people who want to have a set of colourful slides with some random hits that produce unspecific  smoke but no substance.

The reason why these Landscape FTOs exist is that the people who produce them do not want to give you a precise and definitive answer to whether of not you are free to sell your new product on the market.

Different from these unspecific Landscape FTOs, our Systematic FTO gives you a precise and reliable measuremen tfor the Level of confidence that comes with your product.  And you can count on the result because it comes from a reliable source: professionally trained and officially licensed patent attorneys.

You only need to do an FTO in those countries where you may infringe a patent. That is the bare minimum.

While that sounds trivial, it is not. There are 150+ countries in this world where you can register patents. And there is no way for a patent applicant to file patent applications in all of them. Most patent applications are filed in only a handful countries, because of economic reasons.

This is why an FTO often leads to unexpected results: we find a patent that is very relevant for a new product but that patent is registered in one single country only. That is not a bad result at all! Because that gives you an unexpected FTO result: you are free to use the teaching of that patent in all other countries where it is not registered.

We encounter that myth often: “I have a US patent, and that one covers the entire world, inclusive Singapore and SE Asia”. The answer is clear: “No, Sir, it does not. Patents are territorial and you forgot to patent your invention here.”

 

We need to make two things clear. 

First, we Patent Attorneys can give you 100% certainty when it comes to the question whether or not your product infringes a specific patent. That is what makes us patent attorneys different from common patent searchers that you find in the Internet and that are not qualified as patent attorneys. 

The second point is that there will never be a 100% security in Freedom-to-Operate studies because of the sheer amount of patent publications that is out there. While it is easy to identify some possibily relevant earlier patents, it is very difficult to identify ALL possibly relevant patents and then to identify ALL those patents that are really relevant for your product.

This is why Landscape FTO searches were invented, and these are not acceptable: how to get some low-hanging fruits, cheap, and with some colorful slides.

Our Systematic FTO addresses the need for reliable information that is used in a professional environment. We first look at the big picture and define ALL potentially relevant patents and patent publications, and work out a systematic plan to analyze these. That comes with figure that represents both the work done and the work that can be done in order to increase the security level that has earlier been achieved.

In short words: there is always one more patent to look at: our databases contain about 80,000 patent publications for Singapore. And the Pareto principle applies. The effort for increasing the completeness of an FTO increases in a non-linear manner. The following picture illustrates this effect:

(insert picture)

You can see that the most important limiting factor in Freedom-to-Operate searches is the available budget. Our Systematic FTO is the only way to reliably provide an optimized trade-off between this budget and the Level of Confidence that a company desires. And all that with the incredible Sprint Patent speed.

 

The Systematic FTO result comes with a FREE provisional patent application draft because we are professionally trained and licensed patent attorneys.

Only patent attorneys are allowed to draft patent applications, and the step from providing a watertight description of your product – which is the starting point of every FTO study – to a full-fledged Provisional Patent Application is not a far leap.

A good start in any new product development comes with an early acquired Intellectual Property right. We are using A.I. for all our works and that is why we can convert that comprehensive product description easily and fast into a Provisional Patent Application that you can later improve to become a litigation-grade patent.

That Provisional Patent Application can be used to request an official prior art search result at a Patent Office. That prior art search will give you even more information about what to expect from from entering the market with your new product.

That is Sprint Patent style: we go fast and for a fixed price, and we provide measurable quality.

A “Safe Harbour” FTO result shows you what you are allowed to do, for example because your product idea is disclosed in earlier patents that have lapsed.

Patents are not eternal, their maximum life span is 20 years, and they have be renewed on regular basis by paying annuities. Very often, patents laps much earlier because the patent owners do not renew them.

The public is then free to use the knowledge of these lapsed patents because they – by law – became part of the public domain.

Another aspect of the “Safe Harbour” is that we find a patent that is very relevant for a new product but that patent is registered in one single country only. That is a good result because you are free to use the teaching of that patent in all other countries where it is not registered. While there are 150+ countries in this world where you can register patents, most patent applications are filed in only a handful countries, because of economic reasons. There is no way for a patent applicant to file patent applications in all of them.

This myth is impossible to eliminate: “I have a granted patent and I am safe to do what I have described there.”

No, you are not. Having a patent for your product is not good enough. You are in danger if you are bringing your new product to market. Patent rights do not guarantee that your product will not infringe on existing or future third-party patent rights. While your product may include some novel features, it can still infringe on technologies that are protected by other patents.

Please watch our video course about FTO for more information (click here).

 

 

We have an entire Prior Art Search course available for those who want to know more about patent searches. The course is free.

Please follow this link

Prior Art Searches Basics

The fast-forward way to learn how R&D, FTO, IP, and Market Validation  are related to each other is to read Martin Schweiger’s  book “The 4×4 Innovation Strategy” that you can download for FREE, here:

https://ip-lawyer-tools.com/the-4×4-innovation-strategy/

This book shows you the four stages of making a product across four key questions: Can I create this? Am I allowed to create this? If I create this, can I hold exclusive rights to it? Will anybody buy it (profitably) if I do make it?

Much of the world will dismiss this as “obvious”., focusing only on the first stage and the first question. Only to fall at another stage and another question. 

In very short words: an  “Infringement Analysis” is very often a part of an “FTO” exercise, when your actual product is compared in detail with the patents and patent applications that have surfaced in the course of identifying patent publications that come close to your product. 

The Infringement Analysis  starts with determining whether or not a specific patent publication has resulted in a patent for a specific country that is still alive, followed by analysing whether or not the patent claims cover your product.

We are licensed patent attorneys and as such authorized to give you a definitive answer on whether or not you can use your product as you intended to do.

And that is the purpose and core object of any FTO exercise. 

A Letter From Me

Addressed to:

– IP Professionals
– Legal Practitioners
– In-house Counsels
– Start-Ups

Good day, here is Martin Schweiger. I am a patent attorney in Singapore. Welcome to the landing page of the Sprint Patents: Freedom-To-Operate in one or more countries. 


Martin Schweiger
Schweiger & Partners

Start Your FTO Journey Now!

We need to check for conflicts of interest before we can start working for you because it is the law for Singapore Patent Attorneys.

We will send you a questionnaire to make sure we can work together.

    To get begin your Systematic FTO, please fill up the following form (only two fields are mandatory)





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    Please note that there are no fees associated for the verification of conflict of interest. Costs will only apply once you explicitly give us an order to proceed with the work.