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10-Q
PROTEON THERAPEUTICS INC filed this Form 10-Q on 11/07/2017
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Although we plan on seeking patent term restoration for our products, it may not be granted if, for example, we fail to apply within applicable deadlines, fail to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents or otherwise fail to satisfy applicable requirements. Moreover, the applicable time period or the scope of patent protection afforded could be less than we request. If we are unable to obtain patent term restoration or the term of any such patent restoration is less than we request, our competitors may be able to enter the market and compete against us sooner than we anticipate, and our ability to generate revenues could be materially adversely affected.

 

Changes in United States patent law could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products.

 

As is the case with other biotechnology companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biotechnology industry involve both technological and legal complexity, and is therefore costly, time-consuming and inherently uncertain. In addition, the United States has recently enacted and is currently implementing wide-ranging patent reform legislation, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or America Invents Act. The America Invents Act includes a number of significant changes to United States patent law. These include provisions that affect the way patent applications will be prosecuted, provides expanded opportunities for post-grant administrative review of patents before the USPTO, and may also affect patent litigation. It is not yet clear what, if any, impact the America Invents Act will have on the operation of our business. However, the America Invents Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of any patents that may issue from our patent applications, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

 

In addition, recent United States Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances and weakened the rights of patent owners in certain situations. The full impact of these decisions is not yet known. For example, on March 20, 2012 in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., the Court held that several claims drawn to measuring drug metabolite levels from patient samples and correlating them to drug doses were not patent-eligible subject matter. The decision appears to impact diagnostics patents that merely apply a law of nature via a series of routine steps and it has created uncertainty around the ability to obtain patent protection for certain inventions. Additionally, on June 13, 2013 in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., the Court held that claims to isolated genomic DNA are not patent-eligible, but claims to complementary DNA molecules are patent-eligible because they are not a natural product. The effect of the decision on patents for other isolated natural products is uncertain. However, on March 4, 2014, the USPTO issued a memorandum to patent examiners providing guidance for examining claims that recite laws of nature, natural phenomena or natural products under the Myriad and Prometheus decisions. This guidance did not limit the application of Myriad to DNA, but, rather, applied the decision to other natural products.

 

In addition to increasing uncertainty with regard to our ability to obtain future patents, this combination of events has created uncertainty with respect to the value of patents, once obtained. Depending on these and other decisions by the United States Congress, the federal courts and the USPTO, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our current or future patents.

 

We may be subject to damages resulting from claims that we or our employees have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets of their former employers.

 

Our employees have been previously employed at other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors, or at universities or academic medical centers. We also engage advisors and consultants who are concurrently employed at universities or who perform services for other entities. Although we are not aware of any claims currently pending against us, we may be subject to claims that we or our employees, advisors or consultants have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of a former employer or other third party. We may in the future also be subject to claims that an employee, advisor or consultant performed work for us that conflicts with that person’s obligations to a third party, such as an employer, and thus, that the third party has an ownership interest in the intellectual property arising out of work performed for us. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. Even if we are successful in defending against these claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management. If we are unsuccessful in defending against such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel. A loss of key personnel or their work product could hamper or prevent our ability to commercialize vonapanitase or any additional product candidates, which would materially adversely affect our commercial development efforts.

 

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