Searches and Opinions

Freedom to Operate and Invalidity

A large and highly technical component of your attorney’s skill set is Freedom to Operate and Invalidity opinions. This means a person’s freedom to do business in light of another existing IP right, which is something that can depend on the validity of that right.

Where infringement is unknown or suspected, an FTO and validity opinion should form part of due diligence. Lord and Company can provide an opinion on both the likelihood of infringement and the validity of the right in question. Therefore, providing clients with a clearer picture and understanding of the risks prior to proceeding.


The state of the prior art at the time of filing an application largely determines its validity during examination. Understanding that prior art base, therefore, can be very beneficial, and searching can help with deciding whether or not to file an application, or how to tailor the application to give the best possible chance of reaching grant.

Searching can take many forms, from a summary or detailed review of several databases to a formal examination undertaken by a government body. We can assist with searching and understanding the results of any searches to enable you to make the best decisions and reduce your risk of unsuccessful applications.

Registerability (Trade mark and Design)

Before filing a trade mark application, we can search registers, both locally and internationally, to understand what conflicting rights may already exist.

The trade mark application process takes time, typically at least 6 months before registration occurs, and if you are considering embarking on a potentially expensive branding exercise, a diligent approach would be to perform searches to understand the likelihood of applications being accepted before committing large sums.

Lord and Company can help assess and manage this risk by carrying out searches and providing opinions before applications are filed.

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