Fargo Office

Murrieta Office

Colorado Springs Office

Fargo Office

Murrieta Office

Colorado Springs Office

Introduction: PPO and FTO searches

When it comes to protecting your intellectual property, thorough research and analysis are crucial. Two important searches that can help you navigate the complex world of patents are the Preliminary Patentability Opinion (PPO) search and the Freedom to Operate (FTO) search. While these searches serve different purposes, they both play a vital role in ensuring the success and viability of your invention.

Preliminary Patentability Opinion (PPO) Search:

The PPO search is an initial step in assessing the patentability of your invention. It focuses on identifying prior art, including existing patents and published applications, that could potentially impact the novelty and non-obviousness of your invention. While a PPO search helps gain insights into whether your invention may face obstacles during the patent application process, there are limitations.

It only considers a limited number of patents and published applications, which means it may not uncover all relevant prior art. Additionally, while a PPO search is helpful in determining whether your invention is anticipated by existing patents, it may not provide a definitive answer regarding the obviousness of your invention. Therefore, if you decide to proceed with a PPO search, it is crucial to understand that it does not evaluate potential infringement issues.

Freedom to Operate (FTO) Search:

On the other hand, a Freedom to Operate (FTO) search focuses on assessing the risk of infringing on existing patents or intellectual property rights. This search helps you determine whether your invention can be manufactured, used, or sold without violating someone else’s patents or rights. At Fargo Patent and Business Law, we consider FTO searches to be a crucial step before bringing your invention to market.

Unlike the PPO search, an FTO search takes a broader approach by examining a wider range of patents, patent applications, and other relevant intellectual property documents. This comprehensive search helps identify potential roadblocks that may prevent you from freely operating in the market. Understanding the scope and potential risks of infringement can save you from costly legal disputes and ensure a smoother path for commercializing your invention.

Making Informed Decisions

Deciding between a PPO search and an FTO search depends on your specific circumstances and goals. If you are primarily concerned with the patentability of your invention and want to evaluate its novelty and non-obviousness, a PPO search can provide valuable insights. However, it is essential to keep in mind that a PPO search is not a guarantee of patentability and does not assess potential infringement risks.

On the other hand, if your primary concern is ensuring freedom to operate in the marketplace without infringing on existing patents, an FTO search is the recommended approach. This search helps you understand the competitive landscape and assess the risk of infringement, enabling you to make informed decisions about launching, manufacturing, or using your invention.

At Fargo Patent and Business Law, we understand that conducting comprehensive searches can be complex and time-consuming. That’s why we leverage our expertise and access to reliable databases, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to provide our clients with accurate and insightful results. Our team of experienced patent attorneys will guide you through the search process, helping you navigate the intricacies of patent law and ensuring that your intellectual property is protected.


When it comes to patent protection, knowledge is power. Conducting a preliminary patentability opinion (PPO) search or a freedom to operate (FTO) search can significantly impact the success of your invention. While a PPO search assesses the patentability of your invention by considering prior art, an FTO search evaluates the risks of infringing on existing patents or intellectual property rights.

Choosing the right search depends on your specific needs and objectives. Whether you require clarity on patentability or want to ensure freedom to operate in the marketplace, Fargo Patent and Business Law is here to provide expert guidance. Our team of dedicated patent attorneys is well-versed in conducting comprehensive searches, leveraging the resources of the USPTO and other reliable databases.