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Caliperís IP licensing picks up steam: Affymetrix latest to license microfluidic technology from Caliper Life Sciences
May 2005
by Chris Anderson  |  Email the author


HOPKINTON, Mass.óCaliper Life Sciences' newly-minted strategy of out-licensing its patent estate to gain greater penetration within the life sciences market gained more steam recently with the late April announcement that lab-on-a-chip giant Affymetrix had agreed to license a portion of the company's microfluidics technology. Extending to the manufacture and sale of all of GeneChip microarray products and technologies, Affymetrix follows clinical proteomics company Predicant as the second such licensee of Caliper patents and marks the first deal that places its microfluidics technology squarely in the drug discovery arena.
While specific details of the deal were not released, Affymetrix will pay Caliper both an upfront fee for the license and royalties on all future products covered under the agreement.
The recent license comes roughly a year after the two companies began working together to integrate Caliper's liquid handling systems for use with it lab chip products. "We essentially built a technology platform for running their GeneChips and their new high-throughput array chips, using the old Zymark technology," says Kevin Hrusovsky, Caliper president and CEO. "These were built from off-the-shelf technologies based on the Cyclone liquid handler and that alone was a major win for us at the time."
The resultant automated system, co-branded with the Affymetrix and Caliper and Cyclone names, began shipping in the fourth quarter and was the genesis for further involvement between the two companies. "The senior management of Affymetrix has been extremely favorable with the technologies that we have been working with them on and, as a result, we have had the opportunity to present the broader suite of our technologies and that was how we discovered their interest in licensing the microfluidics patents," Hrusovksy says.
Affymetrix officials were not available for an interview prior to press time, but in a news release announcing the deal, Alan Sherr, director of licensing says that "the potential for merging (Affymetrix and Caliper) technologies on the forefront of life science innovation represents and important option for us. We have worked successfully with Caliper as a partner for a year now, and are pleased to be able to extend the relationship with Caliper to this new area of potential value and importance to Affymetrix' customers."
For Caliper, being chosen by one of the leaders in the lab-on-a-chip market is further proof of the value of both its microfluidics technology and of the growing importance of microfluidics in the drug discovery marketplace. "This license is a demonstration of how powerful microfluidics can be in the drug discovery landscape," Hrusovksy says. "In the past, we, as a company, have not been oriented toward trying to exploit that. But we think this move to out-license this technology to Affymetrix will catalyze a lot of other companies' interest in Caliper technology for advancing the efficiency and capability for microfluidic tools to enhance drug discovery."
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