Before applying for a patent and/or trademark, it is important to make sure that you have freedom to operate (“FTO”). To put it another way, it's important to make sure that nobody else has patented the same invention and/or trademarked the same name or symbol. Given the vast amount of IP available in the U.S.—much less the rest of the world—conducting an FTO search may seem like an overwhelming task. The IP professionals at Gallium Law have extensive experience in conducting FTO searches, and would be happy to help you determine whether you have FTO prior to moving forward with any patent and/or trademark applications.
An FTO search for a patentable invention takes the form of a patent search, where we research issued patents and published patent applications related to your invention. Analysis of the search results helps you, as the inventor, better understand what has already been done in that inventive space so that you can move forward with your product development and patent application, or, if necessary, adjust your product and application to differentiate yourself from the prior art.
An FTO search for a trademark takes the form of a clearance search, where we evaluate your desired mark and any existing marks and determine if there may be a likelihood of confusion between your mark and the prior art. In the event that an identical, or confusingly similar, mark already exists, we can help you choose a new word or symbol in order to avoid the likelihood of confusion (which would result in rejection of your trademark application by the USPTO).
The importance of due diligence cannot be overstated. Imagine investing a great deal of time and money into a project, for example developing a product or brand, only to find out later that a similar product and/or brand already exists and you are not able to gain patent and/or trademark protection. Hiring an experienced IP firm to do your due diligence, through patent searches and/or trademark clearance searches, can prevent this situation. Due diligence should also be one of the first steps in the process of purchasing an IP portfolio from another inventor or business, to confirm the value of the portfolio. Our team is available to conduct thorough due diligence for your own idea or for the potential purchase of an existing portfolio. Please fill out this Contact Form and we will be in touch soon, or call us at 651-256-9480.