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Patent Information Users Group, Inc.

The International Society for Patent Information Professionals

PIUG Freedom to Operate Fundamentals: Comprehensive Techniques for Researching Freedom to Operate

A patent search to discover Freedom to Operate (FTO) or Freedom to Practice is one of the fundamental searches an Intellectual Property searcher must learn to master. FTO searches provide details on what is legally protected and can yield insight into making informed business decisions.

Freedom to Operate Fundamentals is taught by highly experienced PIUG members with many years of searching and training experience. Instructor bios are attached here. The course will build understanding of the fundamental concepts of FTO, and develop general techniques based on current patent law into focused strategies for performing FTO searches in the engineering, chemical, and biotech areas. It will demonstrate best practices for searching in each area and case studies of complete searches.

Discover targeted approaches that will help you be more effective by saving time and providing more accurate results. Learn how to utilize freely accessible resources for searching and how to determine what is legally in-force, including INPADOC, national patent office registers, and vendor offerings. This lecture-based course will include slide presentations, live examples of focused searches, and a printed handout.

Freedom to Operate Fundamentals is being offered on Thursday, November 7th, 2019, at the Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA) of the USPTO, Madison Building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA.  Registration is scheduled to open July 11, 2019. PIUG members are eligible for discounted rates as well as access to other Members Only information on the Wiki.  Find more information and register for the course here.

Topics covered include:

  • Understanding what steps are needed for a FTO search and identifying differences versus a prior art and other types of patent searches.
  • Identifying resources for FTO searches and best practices for comprehensive search results.
  • Search tips for performing FTO searches more efficiently and cost effectively.
  • Working search examples and case studies in focused technology areas.
  • Determining what patents are still in-force including finding patent term adjustments and extensions.
  • Providing additional considerations for searching FTO outside the US.
  • Best methods for reporting search results.

Whether you are new to performing FTO searches or more experienced, this course will provide techniques to take your FTO research skills to the next level, and help advance your career.


Time Activity
8:00 - 8:30 am Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:30 - 8:45 am Welcome, Course Overview and Introductions
John Zabilski, Course Director
8:45 - 9:45 am An Introduction to FTO Searching
Dominic DeMarco
9:45 - 10:30 am Resources for FTO & Legal Status Determination
John Zabilski
10:30 - 10:45 am Break
10:45 am - 12:15 pm Determining FTO in the Engineering Area
Dominic DeMarco
12:15 - 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 - 2:30 pm Determining FTO in the Chemical Area
John Zabilski
2:30 - 2:45 pm Break
2:45 - 4:15 pm Determining FTO in the Biotech Area
Greg Roland
4:15 - 4:30 pm Closing Remarks and Course Evaluations

If you perform Freedom to Operate (FTO) research, don’t miss this opportunity to enhance your conceptual understanding of FTO, and your skills, by attending this one-day course offered by the Patent Information Users Group (PIUG).  

Register Now.

Feel free to share this information with your colleagues.

Hotel Arrangements:

Most hotels within walking distance are around $200 per night. However the USPTO is next to the King Street Metro (subway system), so registrants are free to stay anywhere they want near a Metro or with a shuttle to the Metro. The Westin which is physically adjacent to the USPTO is the most convenient hotel. There are a lot of options in the area and any hotel in "Old Town Alexandria" will be within a 15 or 20 minute walk of the USPTO.  Expedia listings in the area for the dates of the course are here.

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