Product Clearance Search or Patent Infringement Search by Registered U.S. Patent Attorney

Innovative companies quickly come up against intellectual property rights belonging to others. In a Derwent survey, 70% of the companies surveyed admitted that they had spent money on R&D, only to find that the product or technology in development was already protected by a competitor’s patent. We can work with you at any point during your product life cycle to get your product protected and cleared for marketing.

A Product Clearance Search Focuses on In-Force Patent Claims

A Product Clearance Search, sometimes called a Patent Infringement Search or simply just a Clearance Search, seeks to determine whether your proposed product infringes any in-force patent claims. If infringement exists, you will be aware of it and can make the appropriate business decision. That business decision may be to commission a Patent Invalidity Search on the patent in question, to initiate design-around activities, or to consider licensing the technology at issue.

A Product Clearance Search is generally much more complex than patentability searches because the claim scope of every relevant patent must be determined. A Product Clearance Search often precedes the drafting of a legal opinion, which will assess the risks relating to infringement of patents and potential infringement of pending patent applications. In the U.S., only a patent attorney can provide such an opinion. At, we can provide both the search and the opinion.

Product Clearance Search Distinguished from Freedom to Operate Search

Because a Product Clearance Search is only directed at infringement, only the claims of in-force patents are relevant. Thus, searching for expired patents or non-patent literature is unnecessary. Note that a similar, more expansive search, known as a Freedom to Operate Search, also considers expired patents and publicly available documents in addition to in-force patents.

In-Force Claims May be very Broad and Not Include all Features of the Proposed Product

Note that the in-force claims may be very broad and not include all features of the proposed product or invention. For example, the new product may include features A + B + C + D. That combination will infringe an earlier and broader claim that only recites A + B.

Conducting a Product Clearance Search Requires In-Depth Knowledge of Claim Interpretation

An understanding of patent law, particularly claim interpretation, is important in conducting a Product Clearance Search. The patent searcher must interpret hundreds or thousands of patent claims of potentially relevant in-force patents. It follows that searchers make critical judgments based on claim interpretation when they determine which references to give to clients and which to delete.

Although many non-attorney searchers at other prior art search firms take on this type of search, we believe that practice to be unwise and that only an attorney searcher is qualified. People who lack legal training ought not to be interpreting patent claims.