Assessing Patent Rights in a Global Market

Aug 5, 2020

Global communication network around planet Earth in space, worldwide exchange

Generally speaking, an integrated world is great for business. Currently the world is so integrated in terms of information exchange and logistics, that businesses based on opposite sides of the planet can easily share their resources, whether they be manufacturing capabilities, outsourced services or the goodwill of their brands. Online commerce also allows even the smallest companies to conduct business around the globe with ease.

While the global market may now be more accessible, the discordance among patent laws and patent rights from region to region can severely complicate business plans and expose market participants to patent infringement liability. As a result, businesses that enter markets should first ensure they are in the clear to operate.

The Necessity of the Freedom-to-Operate Search

A company’s “freedom-to-operate” in a specific territory depends on the patent rights that are held within that territory and the types of patent rights that are granted by the applicable patent authority. For example, in the United States, the owner of a valid United States patent can exclude others from making, using or selling the invention claimed in their patent within the United States and its territories. This means that companies conducting business in the United States are not only potentially at risk of infringing patent rights at the point of sale, but also when manufacturing products or implementing processes within a patent territory.  

With globalized business practices, many companies operate in multiple countries at once by offering products or services in those countries, or through international product manufacturing and assembly. Freedom-to-operate searches (also called “patent clearance searches” or “clearance searches”) are performed to help companies assess the patent rights that have been granted in territories where they operate or intend to operate, and help them evaluate the risk of operating in those territories. As such, freedom-to-operate searches should be conducted before a company conducts business in a given market, and, ideally, searches should be conducted early in a product’s development cycle so companies have the opportunity to modify their product designs to avoid patent infringement. 

To learn more about freedom-to-operate searches and other common client questions, access Top 5 Patent Search Questions​.​

Finding Freedom With Advanced Patent Search Tools

The varying patent authorities and languages used in different countries have historically made it difficult to perform freedom-to-operate patent searches. Not only have patent practitioners had to grapple with translating patent documents to their own languages before an infringement analysis, but searching for patent documents in multiple countries has also meant searching each applicable patent authority’s patent database separately. Today, patent searches are much easier than they used to be thanks to advanced patent search tools. The LexisNexis TotalPatent One® patent search platform provides users with access to more than 115 million patent documents from over 100 patent authorities around the world—all accessible from a single search tool. TotalPatent One® also has many features to help practitioners find relevant patent references from the patent authorities they select, and provides full-text machine translations to relieve patent practitioners of the need to translate patent documents themselves.

TotalPatent One Screenshot

The TotalPatent One platform does more than just save time and money on patent searches; it also integrates the patent world like never before. Companies that rely on TotalPatent One have the opportunity to perform superior risk assessments so they can strategically expand their business within the global market.

Use LexisNexis TotalPatent One® patent search software for comprehensive research and analytics. Search issued patents, published patent applications, and utility models, globally.  Learn more about TotalPatent One.​

Learn how to save time and effort with the LexisNexis TotalPatent One tool by watching this On-Demand Webinar: 5 Time-Saving Tips for Patent Searching.

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