future, if and when our product candidates receive FDA approval, we expect to apply, if appropriate, for patent term extension on patents covering those product candidates, their methods of use and/or methods of manufacture.
In addition to patents, we rely on trade secrets and know-how to develop and maintain our competitive position. We typically utilize trade secrets to protect aspects of our business. We protect trade secrets and know-how by establishing confidentiality agreements and invention assignment agreements with our employees, consultants, scientific advisors, contractors and collaborators. These agreements provide that all confidential information developed or made known during the course of an individual or entities’ relationship with us must be kept confidential during and after the relationship. These agreements also provide that all inventions resulting from work performed for us or relating to our business and conceived or completed during the period of employment or assignment, as applicable, shall be our exclusive property. In addition, we take other appropriate precautions, such as physical and technological security measures, to guard against misappropriation of our proprietary information by third parties.
The development and commercialization of new drug and biologic products is highly competitive and is characterized by rapid and substantial technological development and product innovations. We face competition with respect to our current product candidates and will face competition with respect to any product candidates that we may seek to develop or commercialize in the future from major pharmaceutical companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies worldwide. We are aware of a number of large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as well as smaller, early-stage companies, that are pursuing the development of products, including microbiome therapeutics, and disease indications we are targeting. Potential competitors also include academic institutions, government agencies and other public and private research organizations that conduct research, seek patent protection and establish collaborative arrangements for research, development, manufacturing and commercialization.
Many of the companies against which we are competing or against which we may compete in the future have significantly greater financial resources, established presence in the market and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals and marketing approved products than we do. Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors.
These third parties compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific, clinical, manufacturing sales and marketing and management personnel, establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs.
The key competitive factors affecting the success of the product candidates that we develop, if approved, are likely to be their efficacy, safety, convenience, price, the level of competition and the availability of reimbursement from government and other third-party payors.
Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than any products that we may develop. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market, especially for any competitor developing a microbiome therapeutic which will likely share our same regulatory approval requirements. In addition, our ability to compete may be affected in many cases by insurers or other third-party payors seeking to encourage the use of lower cost products.
The FDA and other regulatory authorities at federal, state and local levels, as well as in foreign countries, extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, quality control, import, export, safety, effectiveness, labeling, packaging, storage, distribution, record keeping, approval, advertising, promotion, marketing, post-approval monitoring and post-approval reporting of drugs and biologics such as those we are developing. We, along with our contract manufacturers, will be required to navigate the various preclinical, clinical and commercial approval requirements of the governing regulatory agencies of the countries in which we wish to conduct studies or seek approval for our product candidates. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and ensuring subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations requires the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.