One of the important aspects in launching a product is not even protection, but verification for possible violation of the rights of third parties. After all, your product (whether software or hardware) may violate one or hundreds of patents of others.
To avoid such problems, before the start of the project it is necessary to conduct a patent clearance search, which western experts call Freedom to Operate (FTO) search.
What a startuper should know about FTO
Clarify the status of the patent. A patent must be maintained on a annual basis, and if it is not renewed and can not be restored, the patented technology can be used without violating the rights of third parties.
Given that the patent has territorial effect, a patent for a product in the United States does not prohibit its use by third parties in other jurisdictions. Therefore, it is important to select the right list of countries where you want to obtain protection. As in the situation with Taiwan, which is also called the Republic of China. By the way, it is important to keep in mind that China's patent does not grant exclusive rights to administrative districts — Hong Kong and Macau. And applications filed for patents in France do not apply to French Polynesia.
The search should be carried out not only by the product as a whole, but also by its components. For example, your objective is to launch a new smartphone. In FTO, a search is conducted on the applications and issued patents not only for smartphones but also on their components – processor, memory, wifi modules, etc.
Determine the scope of protection. The scope of protection of the invention is determined by the patent claims. Accordingly, the violation of rights is the use of all the features of an independent claim. For example, if a patented device consists of components A, B, C and D, and your device consists only of A, B and C, this will not be considered a violation of rights.
But even though, according to the findings of the FTO you cannot launch the product to the market, you should not despair. You may contact the patent holder and propose to buy it out, get a license to use the product, and, if you fail to come to an agreement, find options for contesting the patent.