We may be involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents or the patents of our licensors, which could be expensive, time-consuming and unsuccessful.
Competitors may infringe our patents or the patents of our licensors. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file infringement claims, which can be expensive and time-consuming. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that a patent of ours or our licensors is not valid, is unenforceable and/or is not infringed, or may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue for many reasons, including but not limited to, a determination that our patents do not cover the technology in question. Interference proceedings provoked by third parties or brought by us may be necessary to determine the priority of inventions with respect to our patents or patent applications or those of our licensors or collaborators. An adverse result in any litigation or patent office proceeding could put one or more of our patents at risk, for example, of being invalidated, deemed unenforceable or interpreted narrowly or could put our patent applications at risk of not issuing.
An unfavorable outcome could require us to cease using a technology or to attempt to license rights to it from the prevailing party. Our business could be harmed if the prevailing party does not offer us a license on commercially reasonable terms. Our defense of our patents and patent applications may fail and, even if successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and other employees. We may not be able to prevent, alone or with our licensors, misappropriation of our intellectual property rights, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect those rights as fully as in the United States.
Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. There could also be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments. If securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, these perceptions could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common stock.
We may be subject to claims challenging the inventorship or ownership of our patents and other intellectual property.
We may also be subject to claims that third parties, including but not limited to, former employees and collaborators, have an ownership interest in our patents or other intellectual property. In the future, we may have ownership disputes arising, for example, from conflicting obligations of consultants or others who are involved in developing our product candidates. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these and other claims challenging inventorship or ownership. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights, such as the exclusive ownership of, or the right to use, valuable intellectual property. Such an outcome could have a material adverse effect on our business. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation or arbitration could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees.
Issued patents covering our product candidates could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged in court.
If we or one of our licensing partners initiated legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering one of our product candidates or the use or manufacture thereof, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our product candidate is invalid and/or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and/or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including utility, written description, novelty, non-obviousness or enablement. Additionally, in the United States, a patent can be deemed unenforceable if someone connected with the prosecution of a patent application intentionally withheld materially relevant information from the USPTO, or intentionally mislead the USPTO during prosecution. Third-party challenges to the validity and/or enforceability of a patent can occur in courts in the United States or abroad, or in pre- or post-grant proceedings in some foreign patent offices (e.g., but not limited to re-examination, post grant review, inter parties review, or opposition proceedings). Such proceedings could result in the revocation of, or amendment to, our patents in such a way that they no longer cover our product candidates. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. With respect to the validity question, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art, of which we and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability of one of our patents for a product candidate, this could substantially affect our ability to protect that product candidate in the country in which the patent was issued. Such a loss of patent protection could have a material adverse impact on our business.
We may be subject to claims that our employees, consultants or independent contractors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information of third parties or that our employees have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets of their former employers.
As is common in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, we employ individuals who were previously employed at universities or other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Although we try