|PACIRA PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. filed this Form 10-K on 03/01/2017|
against competitive products, or otherwise be commercially valuable to us. Furthermore, while we generally apply for patents in those countries where we intend to make, have made, use or sell patented products, we may not accurately predict all of the countries where patent protection will ultimately be desirable. If we fail to timely file a patent application in any such country, we may be precluded from doing so at a later date. We also cannot assure you that the patents issuing as a result of our foreign patent applications will have the same scope of coverage as our United States patents.
Some of our older patents have already expired. In the case of DepoCyt(e), key patents providing protection in Europe have expired. In the case of EXPAREL, our European and US patent applications have been granted and provide protection through November 2018 and September 2018, respectively. An existing formulation patent for EXPAREL expired in November 2013. An existing formulation patent for EXPAREL expired in the US in 2013 and its equivalents in Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom expired in 2014. Once our patents covering EXPAREL have expired, we will be more reliant on trade secrets to protect against generic competition.
We also rely on trade secrets to protect our technology, particularly where we do not believe patent protection is appropriate or obtainable. However, trade secrets are difficult to protect. While we use reasonable efforts to protect our trade secrets through confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, our licensors, employees, consultants, contractors, outside scientific collaborators and other advisors may unintentionally or willfully disclose our information to competitors. Policing unauthorized use of our trade secrets or enforcing a claim that a third-party illegally obtained and is using our trade secrets is expensive and time consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, trade secret laws in other countries may not be as protective as they are in the United States. Thus, courts outside the United States are sometimes less willing to protect trade secrets. Moreover, our competitors may independently develop equivalent knowledge, methods and know-how.
In order to protect the goodwill associated with our company and product names, we rely on trademark protection for our marks. We have registered the “Pacira”, “EXPAREL”, “DepoCyt”, “DepoCyte” and “DepoTXA” marks with the USPTO. A third-party may assert a claim that one of our marks is confusingly similar to its mark, and such claims or the failure to timely register a mark or objections by the FDA could force us to select a new name for one of our product candidates, which could cause us to incur additional expense or delay the commercialization of such product.
If we fail to obtain or maintain patent protection or trade secret protection for EXPAREL, DepoCyt(e), DepoFoam or any product candidate that we may develop, license or acquire, third parties could use our proprietary information, which could impair our ability to compete in the market and adversely affect our ability to generate revenues and achieve profitability.
If we are sued for infringing intellectual property rights of third parties, it will be costly and time consuming, and an unfavorable outcome in any litigation would harm our business.
Our ability to develop, manufacture, market and sell EXPAREL, our DepoFoam drug delivery technology or any product candidates that we may develop, license or acquire depends upon our ability to avoid infringing the proprietary rights of third parties. Numerous US and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications, which are owned by third parties, exist in the general fields of pain management and cancer treatment and cover the use of numerous compounds and formulations in our targeted markets. Because of the uncertainty inherent in any patent or other litigation involving proprietary rights, we and our licensors may not be successful in defending intellectual property claims by third parties, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations. Regardless of the outcome of any litigation, defending the litigation may be expensive, time-consuming and distracting to management. In addition, because patent applications can take many years to issue, there may be currently pending applications, unknown to us, which may later result in issued patents that EXPAREL or DepoCyt(e) may infringe. There could also be existing patents of which we are not aware that EXPAREL or DepoCyt(e) may inadvertently infringe.
There is a substantial amount of litigation involving patent and other intellectual property rights in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries in general. If a third-party claims that we infringe on their products or technology, we could face a number of issues, including: