Generally, we analyze the product of interest and identify the key technological features. A “technological feature” here is a separable technological unit which may in itself be patentable based on our assessment. We identify a prioritized list of such technological features and then confirm with the client as to which ones they want to include in the FTO search/analysis.
For the headphone example in the questionnaire, the technical feature would be:
A method of controlling operation (e.g. media player actions) of a computing device based on control signals received over a short range communication (e.g. Bluetooth) from a wearable device (e.g. headphone) comprising orientation/motion sensors.
Note: Any patent rights associated with the sensors, BLE and headphones are assumed to be exhausted as a result of purchase.
As another example, assume the product is a drone that operates based on voice commands and automatically switches onto an auto-pilot mode when it detects incompetency (e.g. indicated by stress, unclear speech and so on) based on voice analysis.
We break this down to the following features:
1. Automatically switching from manual to automatic based on analysis of user
a. the manual/auto modes correspond to a flying machine (i.e. drone)
b. based on speech analysis
2. Identifying operator incompetency based on analysis of user commands
a. based on speech analysis
3. Operating a drone based on voice commands (involves speech recognition)
4. Drone technology including wireless
Based on other considerations (e.g. what off-the shelf components the client uses that exhausts corresponding patent rights and other existing license agreements etc.), we may short list 1 and 2 from the above list and proceed further.