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 Wednesday, November 1st, 2017, at Genentech in South San Francisco, CA. Registration is scheduled to open June 19, 2017.  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).  The course will be held at Genentech, South San Francisco, CA.

Register Now if you are only interested in the FTO course.

If you want to pick up additional patent searching tips from a faculty of long-time PIUG members with decades of patent information experience and learn  the basics of patent law and patent information resources, you can register for the Introduction to Patent Searching course held on October 31, 2016.  You will be offered a discounted rate for both courses by just filling out the registration for the introductory course and indicating that you will attend both courses.  You do not have to register twice (once for each course), simply indicate that you will attend both courses and click the appropriate option on the Intro form and save over 20% in fees for the two days of training.  Register HERE if you want to attend both courses.

Feel free to share this information with your colleagues.

Hotel Arrangements:

Conference Hotel: Embassy Suites by Hilton San Francisco Airport - South San Francisco
250 Gateway Blvd.
South San Francisco, CA  94080

Room Rates: $189/night available from 10/30/17 - 11/1/17 and for 3 days prior or after depending on space availability.

  • Hotel Link for online reservation.  Reservations may also be phoned in to (650) 589-3400. 
    Group Name: Patent Information Users Group, Inc.    Group Code: PAT
  • Each guest is responsible for all guest charges and must secure reservations by credit card. (Cash-paying guests may be required to deposit funds in advance to guarantee payment.)
  • Cancellations must be made by noon prior to the day of arrival in order to avoid penalty. Early departure must also be confirmed at check-in to avoid possible penalties.
  • Check in is 3:00 pm and check out is 12:00 pm.  All guests arriving before will be accommodated as rooms become available.  Front desk staff can arrange to check baggage 650 589 3400for those arriving early when rooms are unavailable and for guests attending functions on departure day.
  • Secure reservations prior to Monday, October 9, 2017 (Cut-Off Date). After this date, all remaining blocked (discounted) rooms will be released for general sale.

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