Clearance Search

By Lia Kopin-Green
October 25, 2022

What is a Clearance Search?

A patent clearance search, also referred to as a freedom to operate search or FTO search, is used to determine whether a product will infringe upon the rights of an already existing patent. It is a precautionary measure used by companies to avoid patent infringement claims, especially during the initial stage of launching a product. Simply put, patent clearance searches are conducted in order to minimize the fear of being sued for infringement and increase the chances that the patent will be approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). 

Key Takeaways

  • A patent clearance search, also known as a freedom to operate search or FTO search, is a method used to determine whether a product will infringe upon the rights of an existing patent.
  • Properly conducting patent clearance searches helps lower the chances that an infringement lawsuit will be filed against an individual or business.
  • It is highly recommended to carry out a patent clearance search before launching a new product.

How Patent Clearance Searches Work

Patent clearance searches are typically performed by checking various forms of patent records such as international records, expired patents, patents pending and infringement cases. Although you could technically perform this analysis on your own, it is highly advised to consult with a patent attorney or professional patent clearance search firm instead.

Considering how thorough and time-consuming these searches are, they can be quite expensive. They may cost anywhere between $3,000 and $30,000 per patent. A main reason for these high costs is that patent clearance search firms often guarantee positive results. In other words, if the firm conducts a successful patent clearance search but the applicant’s patent application ends up getting rejected, he or she may be able to sue the firm.

Despite their cost, patent clearance searches are almost always recommended before launching any new product or design. It can help save thousands of dollars in legal fees in the future by avoiding patent infringement cases.

Patent Clearance Searches vs. Prior Art Searches

While both tests are important stages in the patent application process, you should not confuse a patent clearance search with a prior art search. A patent clearance search is much more extensive than a prior art search. Prior art searches only determine whether the final version of an identical or nearly identical product has been publicly disclosed in the past. On the other hand, patent clearance searches review both existing, pending and expired patents to determine whether some component or process of a product has already been patented. Patent clearance searches also allow the applicant to contact other patent holders to discuss licensing their intellectual property.

Bottom Line

The patent application process can seem overwhelming at first because of the multitude of steps involved. This journey, however, does not have to be a lonely one. Attorney At Law’s expert intellectual property lawyers are here to help you navigate your way through the United States patent system with ease.

Featured Intellectual Property Lawyers

Kell, Alterman & Runstein, L.L.P.

Google rating
27 years in practice
Criminal Defense, Divorce & Family Law, Employment Law, Immigration Law, Intellectual Property
View Profile

Black Helterline LLP

Google rating
19 years in practice
Business Law, Immigration Law, Intellectual Property, Trust & Estate
View Profile

Datsopoulos MacDonald & Lind

Google rating
41 years in practice
Intellectual Property
View Profile

Law Office of Maria Hajar

Google rating
6 years in practice
Business Law, Immigration Law
View Profile

Cornerstone Law Group

Google rating
12 years in practice
Business Law, Criminal Defense, Divorce & Family Law, DUI Law, Sexual Assault
View Profile

Related Posts

Actual Filing Date
Lia Kopin-GreenAugust 4, 2022
Lia Kopin-GreenAugust 22, 2022
Lia Kopin-GreenSeptember 17, 2022
Lia Kopin-GreenAugust 10, 2022
Attorney At Law is changing how clients connect with lawyers. By providing an innovative platform to lawyers who want to expand their practice’s reach, AAL is bringing law practices into the future.
6142 Innovation Way
Carlsbad, California 92009
© 2022 Attorney at Law | All rights reserved
Some of the content of this website may be considered attorney advertising under the rules of certain jurisdictions. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
crossmenuchevron-upchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram