markets. Generally, patents have a term of twenty years from the earliest priority date, assuming that all maintenance fees are paid, no portion of the patent has been terminally disclaimed and the patent has not been invalidated. In certain jurisdictions, and in certain circumstances, patent terms can be extended or shortened. We are pursuing worldwide patent protection for at least novel molecules, compositions of matter, pharmaceutical formulations, methods of use, including treatment of disease, methods of manufacture and other novel uses for the inventive molecules originating from our research and development efforts. We continuously assess whether it is strategically more favorable to maintain confidentiality for the “know-how” regarding a novel invention rather than pursue patent protection. For each patent application that is filed we strategically tailor our claims in accordance with the existing patent landscape around a particular technology.
There can be no assurance that an issued patent will remain valid and enforceable in a court of law through the entire patent term. Should the validity of a patent be challenged, the legal process associated with defending the patent can be costly and time consuming. Issued patents can be subject to oppositions, interferences and other third party challenges that can result in the revocation of the patent or limit patent claims such that patent coverage lacks sufficient breadth to protect subject matter that is commercially relevant. Competitors may be able to circumvent our patents. Development and commercialization of pharmaceutical products can be subject to substantial delays and it is possible that at the time of commercialization any patent covering the product has expired or will be in force for only a short period of time following commercialization. We cannot predict with any certainty if any third party U.S. or foreign patent rights, or other proprietary rights, will be deemed infringed by the use of our technology. Nor can we predict with certainty which, if any, of these rights will or may be asserted against us by third parties. Should we need to defend ourselves and our partners against any such claims, substantial costs may be incurred. Furthermore, parties making such claims may be able to obtain injunctive or other equitable relief, which could effectively block our ability to develop or commercialize some or all of our products in the U.S. and abroad, and could result in the award of substantial damages. In the event of a claim of infringement, we or our partners may be required to obtain one or more licenses from a third party. There can be no assurance that we can obtain a license on a reasonable basis should we deem it necessary to obtain rights to an alternative technology that meets our needs. The failure to obtain a license may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We also rely on trade secret protection for our confidential and proprietary information. No assurance can be given that we can meaningfully protect our trade secrets on a continuing basis. Others may independently develop substantially equivalent confidential and proprietary information or otherwise gain access to our trade secrets.
It is our policy to require our employees and consultants, outside scientific collaborators, sponsored researchers and other advisors who receive confidential information from us to execute confidentiality agreements upon the commencement of employment or consulting relationships. These agreements provide that all confidential information developed or made known to these individuals during the course of the individual’s relationship with the company is to be kept confidential and is not to be disclosed to third parties except in specific circumstances. The agreements provide that all inventions conceived by an employee shall be the property of the company. There can be no assurance, however, that these agreements will provide meaningful protection or adequate remedies for our trade secrets in the event of unauthorized use or disclosure of such information.
Our success will depend in part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent protection, preserve trade secrets, prevent third parties from infringing upon our proprietary rights and operate without infringing upon the proprietary rights of others, both in the U.S. and other territories worldwide.
Manufacturing and Supply
We do not currently own or operate manufacturing facilities for the production of preclinical, clinical or commercial quantities of any of our therapeutic candidates. We currently contract with only one therapeutic substance and three drug product manufacturers for the supply of SNAs and we expect to continue to do so to meet the preclinical and any clinical requirements of our therapeutic candidates. We do not have a long-term agreement with these third parties.