Patent protection and licensing in microfluidics
Microfluidic devices offer control over low-volume samples in order to achieve high-throughput analysis, and reduce turnaround time and costs. Their efficient commercialisation has implications for biomedical sciences, veterinary medicine, environmental monitoring and industrial applications. In particular, market diffusion of microfluidic laboratory and point-of-care diagnostic devices can contribute to the improvement of global health. In their commercialisation, consultancy and patent protection are essential elements that complement academic publishing. The awareness of knowledge transfer strategies can help academics to create value for their research. The aim of this article is to provide a guidance to (1) overview the terminology in patent law, (2) elucidate the process of filing a patent in the US, EU, Japan and internationally, (3) discuss strategies to licence a patent, and (4) explain tactics to defend a patent in a potential infringement. Awareness of the patent law and rights allows obtaining optimised, valid and valuable patents, while accelerating implementation to market route. Striking a balance between academic publishing, consultancy to industry and patent protection can increase commercial potential, enhance economic growth and create social impact.