When bringing a new product to the market or starting a new production process it is important to know whether one infringes existing patent rights of third parties. Infringement might lead to expensive legal procedures or damage claims.
To prevent this an infringement search (also called freedom-to-operate search) can be carried out. Starting with a description of the new product or process a broad and deep search procedure is set up for finding valid patents (and, if necessary, pending patent applications) in the same technical area.
The analysis of the claims of patents found in the search is an important part of the infringement search. If necessary, the search can be followed by a validity search to establish the possiblity to invalidate harmful patents from potential competitors in a legal procedure.
In an infringement search the information specialist will aim at completeness, because it can be riskful to overlook relevant patents. Infringement searches are always carried out in cooperation with a patent attorney and in close contact with technical experts.