2022 FORM 10-K 19
operations and negatively impact our reputation. The global nature of our business means legal and compliance risks, such as anti-bribery, anti-corruption, fraud, trade, environmental, competition, privacy and other regulatory matters, will continue to exist and additional legal proceedings and other contingencies have and will continue to arise from time to time, which could adversely affect us. In addition, the adoption of new laws or regulations, or changes in the interpretation of existing laws or regulations, may result in significant unanticipated legal and reputational risks. Moreover, the regulation of certain transactions we engage in, including those involving non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) and cryptocurrencies, remains in an early stage and subject to significant uncertainty. As a result, we are required to exercise our judgment as to whether or how certain laws or regulations apply, or may in the future apply, and it is possible that legislators, regulators and courts may disagree with our conclusions. Any current or future legal or regulatory proceedings could divert management’s attention from our operations and result in substantial legal fees.
Changes to U.S. or other countries’ trade policies and tariff and import/export regulations or our failure to comply with such regulations may have a material adverse effect on our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations. Changes in U.S. or international social, political, regulatory and economic conditions could impact our business, reputation, financial condition and results of operations. In particular, political and economic instability, geopolitical conflicts, political unrest, civil strife, terrorist activity, acts of war, public corruption, expropriation, nationalism and other economic or political uncertainties in the United States or internationally could interrupt and negatively affect the sale of our products or other business operations. Any negative sentiment toward the United States as a result of any such changes could also adversely affect our business.
In addition, changes in laws and policies governing foreign trade, manufacturing, development and investment in the territories or countries where we currently sell our products or conduct our business could adversely affect our business. U.S. presidential administrations have instituted or proposed changes in trade policies that include the negotiation or termination of trade agreements, the imposition of higher tariffs on imports into the U.S., economic sanctions on individuals, corporations or countries, and other government regulations affecting trade between the U.S. and other countries where we conduct our business. It may be time-consuming and expensive for us to alter our business operations in order to adapt to or comply with any such changes.
Changes or proposed changes in U.S. or other countries’ trade policies may result in restrictions and economic disincentives on international trade. Tariffs and other changes in U.S. trade policy have in the past and could in the future trigger retaliatory actions by affected countries, and certain foreign governments have instituted or are considering imposing retaliatory measures on certain U.S. goods. Further, any emerging protectionist or nationalist trends either in the United States or in other countries could affect the trade environment. The Company, similar to many other multinational corporations, does a significant amount of business that would be impacted by changes to the trade policies of the United States and foreign countries (including governmental action related to tariffs, international trade agreements, or economic sanctions). Such changes have the potential to adversely impact the U.S. economy or certain sectors thereof or the economy of another country in which we conduct operations, our industry and the global demand for our products, and as a result, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Failure to adequately protect or enforce our intellectual property rights could adversely affect our business. We periodically discover counterfeit reproductions of our products or products that otherwise infringe our intellectual property rights. If we are unsuccessful in enforcing our intellectual property rights, continued sales of these products could adversely affect our sales and our brand and could result in a shift of consumer preference away from our products.
The actions we take to establish and protect our intellectual property rights may not be adequate to prevent imitation of our products by others. We also may be unable to prevent others from seeking to block sales of our products as violations of proprietary rights.
We may be subject to liability if third parties successfully claim we infringe their intellectual property rights. Defending infringement claims could be expensive and time-consuming and might result in our entering into costly license agreements. We also may be subject to significant damages or injunctions against development, manufacturing, use, importation and/or sale of certain products.
We take various actions to prevent the unauthorized use and/or disclosure of our confidential information and intellectual property rights. These actions include contractual measures such as entering into non-disclosure and non-compete agreements and agreements relating to our collaborations with third parties and providing confidential information awareness training. Our controls and efforts to prevent unauthorized use and/or disclosure of confidential information and intellectual property rights might not always be effective. For example, confidential information related to business strategy, innovations, new technologies, mergers and acquisitions, unpublished financial results or personal data could be prematurely, inadvertently, or improperly used and/or disclosed, resulting in a loss of reputation, loss of intellectual property rights, a decline in our stock price and/or a negative impact on our market position, and could lead to damages, fines, penalties or injunctions. In addition, new products we offer, such as NFTs, may raise various novel intellectual property law considerations, including adequacy and scope of assignment, licensing, transfer, copyright and other right-of-use issues.
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In addition, the laws of certain countries may not protect or allow enforcement of intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. We may face significant expenses and liability in connection with the protection of our intellectual property rights, including outside the United States, and if we are unable to successfully protect our rights or resolve intellectual property conflicts with others, our business or financial condition may be adversely affected.
We are subject to data security and privacy risks that could negatively affect our results, operations or reputation. In addition to our own sensitive and proprietary business information, we handle transactional and personal information about our wholesale customers and consumers and users of our digital experiences, which include online distribution channels and product engagement, adaptive products and personal fitness applications. Hackers and data thieves are increasingly sophisticated and operate social engineering, such as phishing, and large-scale, complex automated attacks that can evade detection for long periods of time. Any breach of our or our service providers’ networks, or other vendor systems, may result in the loss of confidential business and financial data, misappropriation of our consumers’, users’ or employees’ personal information or a disruption of our business. Any of these outcomes could have a material adverse effect on our business, including unwanted media attention, impairment of our consumer and customer relationships, damage to our reputation; resulting in lost sales and consumers, fines, lawsuits, or significant legal and remediation expenses. We also may need to expend significant resources to protect against, respond to and/or redress problems caused by any breach.
In addition, we must comply with increasingly complex and rigorous, and sometimes conflicting, regulatory standards enacted to protect business and personal data in the United States, Europe and elsewhere. For example, the European Union adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (the “GDPR”), which became effective on May 25, 2018; five states in the United States (California, Virginia, Colorado, Utah, and Connecticut) passed data privacy laws in 2020 and 2021; China enacted the Data Security Law and Personal Information Protection Law, which became effective on September 1, 2021 and November 1, 2021, respectively, and additional jurisdictions have adopted or are considering proposing or adopting similar regulations. These laws impose additional obligations on companies regarding the handling of personal data and provide certain individual privacy rights to persons whose data is stored. Compliance with existing, proposed and recently enacted laws and regulations (including implementation of the privacy and process enhancements called for under laws in the European Union, United States and China) can be costly and time consuming, and any failure to comply with these regulatory standards could subject us to legal and reputational risks. Misuse of or failure to secure personal information could also result in violation of data privacy laws and regulations, proceedings against the Company by governmental entities or others, imposition of fines by governmental authorities and damage to our reputation and credibility and could have a negative impact on revenues and profits.
We could be subject to changes in tax rates, adoption of new tax laws, additional tax liabilities or increased volatility in our effective tax rate. We earn a substantial portion of our income in foreign countries and, as such, we are subject to the tax laws in the United States and numerous foreign jurisdictions. Current economic and political conditions make tax laws and regulations, or their interpretation and application, in any jurisdiction subject to significant change.
Proposals to reform U.S. and foreign tax laws could significantly impact how U.S. multinational corporations are taxed on foreign earnings and could increase the U.S. corporate tax rate. Although we cannot predict whether or in what form these proposals will pass, several of the proposals considered, if enacted into law, could have an adverse impact on our effective tax rate, income tax expense and cash flows.
Portions of our operations are subject to a reduced tax rate or are under various tax holidays. We also utilize tax rulings and other agreements to obtain certainty in treatment of certain tax matters. These holidays expire from time to time and may be extended when certain conditions are met, or terminated if certain conditions are not met. The impact of any changes in conditions would be the loss of certainty in treatment thus potentially impacting our effective income tax rate. For example, in January 2019, the European Commission opened a formal investigation to examine whether the Netherlands has breached State Aid rules when granting certain tax rulings to the Company. If this matter is adversely resolved, the Netherlands may be required to assess additional amounts with respect to prior periods, and the Company’s income taxes related to prior periods in the Netherlands could increase.