|INTUITIVE SURGICAL INC filed this Form 10-K on 02/02/2018|
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this license following any future inspections, we will be unable to manufacture or ship some products, which would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations. In 2012 the State of California announced suspension of routine inspections but this policy could be modified or inspections could be resumed for specific circumstances. In addition, both our Sunnyvale, California and Mexicali, Mexico facilities are subject to periodic inspections by other regulatory bodies, including third party auditors on behalf of national regulatory authorities. Compliance with multiple regulatory standards is complex, difficult and costly to maintain, and material deficiencies could result in significant limitations on our ability to manufacture, transport, and sell our products in one or more countries.
IF HOSPITALS AND OTHER SURGERY FACILITIES DO NOT CONTINUE TO MEET FEDERAL, STATE, OR OTHER REGULATORY STANDARDS, THEY MAY BE REQUIRED TO TEMPORARILY CEASE ALL OR PART OF THEIR DA VINCI UTILIZATION.
Our global customers are subject to periodic inspection by regulatory authorities. Our customers are required to comply with applicable local and international regulations, including with respect to the reprocessing of da Vinci instruments and accessories. Hospitals may not follow cleaning and sterilization instructions properly, or equipment used for cleaning and sterilization may malfunction or be used improperly. If our customers deviate from cleaning and sterilization instructions, regulatory authorities may require them to suspend use of da Vinci Surgical Systems.
RISKS RELATING TO OUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
IF WE ARE UNABLE TO FULLY PROTECT AND SUCCESSFULLY DEFEND OUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY FROM USE BY THIRD PARTIES, OUR ABILITY TO COMPETE IN THE MARKET WILL BE HARMED.
Our commercial success depends in part on obtaining patent protection for the proprietary technologies contained in our products, and on successfully defending our patents against infringing products and/or services in litigation or administrative proceedings, including patent oppositions, reviews, or reexaminations. We will incur substantial costs in obtaining patents and, if necessary, defending our patent rights. We do not know whether we will be successful in obtaining the desired patent protection for our new proprietary technologies, or that the protection we do obtain will be found valid and enforceable when challenged. The success of defending our proprietary rights can be highly uncertain because it involves complex and often evolving legal issues and procedures that are dependent on particular facts of each case.
In addition to patents, we also rely on other intellectual property rights such as trade secret, copyright, and trademark laws to protect proprietary technologies. We further utilize nondisclosure agreements and other contractual provisions as well as technical measures to protect our proprietary technologies. Nevertheless, these measures may be inadequate in protecting our technologies. If these measures are proved to be inadequate in protecting our technologies, our competitive advantages may be reduced. Moreover, we may not have adequate remedies for potential breaches by employees, consultants, and others who participate in developing our proprietary technologies against their agreements with us regarding intellectual property. As a result, our trade secrets may be lost. Notwithstanding our efforts to protect our intellectual property, our competitors may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or products that are equal or superior to our technologies without infringing any of our intellectual property which would harm our ability to compete in the market.
As foreign markets become more significant in revenue for us, our foreign operations and strategic alliances with foreign entities will likely increase. Our exposure to risks associated with these operations requires us to increase our reliance on protecting our intellectual property against infringing products and/or services in markets outside the U.S. The laws and judicial systems in these countries may introduce yet another level of uncertainty to our effort to obtain the desired protection as well as defending our rights.
OTHERS MAY BE SUCCESSFUL IN ASSERTING THAT OUR PRODUCTS INFRINGE THEIR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS, WHICH MAY CAUSE US TO PAY SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGES AND/OR ENJOIN US FROM COMMERCIALIZING OUR PRODUCTS.
As we continue to introduce and commercialize new products and technologies, there may be U.S. and foreign patents issued to third parties that relate to our products. Some of these patents may be broad enough to cover one or more aspects of our products. We do not know whether any of these patents, if challenged, would be held valid, enforceable and infringed. From time to time, we receive, and likely will continue to receive, letters from third parties accusing us of infringing and/or inviting us to license their patents. We may be sued by, or become involved in an administrative proceeding with, one or more of these third parties.
We cannot be certain that a court or administrative body would agree with any arguments or defenses we may have concerning invalidity, unenforceability or non-infringement of any third-party patent. In addition, other parties may have filed or will file patent applications covering products that are similar or identical to ours. We cannot be certain that patents issuing from our own patent application covering our products will have a priority date over any patents issuing from applications filed by a third party.
The medical device industry has experienced extensive intellectual property litigation and administrative proceedings. If third parties assert infringement claims or institute administrative proceedings against us, our technical and management personnel will
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