Traditional knowledge is nothing but an intellectual property or expertise which was formulated, sustained, and passed on to other generations by ancient people. It is, of course, the cultural identity of a country. Indeed, specific traditional knowledge of India is not protected as of intellectual property.
This would result in issues related to the use of traditional knowledge of a country by other individuals.Thus there is a need to protect the traditional knowledge of various countries. The Indian government has taken serious steps in the documentation of Indian traditional knowledge. Therefore patent filing in India is simple, but it takes a long time, which should be done to protect an Intellectual property.
Here you can know about some of the patent issues or scenarios and the situations where others used the Indian traditional knowledge.
Traditional Knowledge Digital Library
The TKDL is a serious initiative of the Indian government to protect the Indian Traditional Knowledge. This digital library helps to access the traditional knowledge, ancient findings, and medicinal facts of India. It is possible to refer to information or collection of records that are not available with International patent offices. There are several patents offered erroneously, and thus, this digital library was set up the Indian government with great efforts. There are texts available in this digital library which details about the Indian medical system, which includes Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Yoga, and several others. All these texts are accessible in different languages.
The following are some of the notable cases that resulted in issues related to the traditional knowledge of India.
Turmeric is a native plant of India which is a tropical herb used for medicinal purposes. In India, turmeric is widely used as a food ingredient, medicine, natural dye, and several other purposes. Some of the therapeutic benefits of turmeric are to treat cold, purify the blood, and skin infections. It is considered as an antiseptic and anti-parasitic. Thus in the year, 1995 US offered a Patent for turmeric to the University of Mississippi for its healing property. Therefore based on the patent, the exclusive rights for the sale and distribution of turmeric were offered to the Medical center of Mississippi. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research filed an objection for the turmeric patent provided by the US. The council submitted the proofs of traditional knowledge on turmeric and its properties. It was challenging to find published information on the medicinal properties of turmeric. Nearly 32 references were found on different languages on the Indian traditional knowledge of turmeric. Thus the patent offered was revoked stating that the turmeric was in use ever since from the ancient days. Therefore the traditional knowledge of India was safeguarded.
This tree was known for its various medicinal benefits in India. But the patent for this tree was applied by W.R Grace, a Patent office of USA. The applicant claimed that neem was used to fight against fungal actions. An opposition was filed by India to cancel the patent offered by the research foundation of science in Delhi. The bark, leaves, twigs, seeds, flowers of the neem tree was used for specific medicinal purposes. The tree can treat skin infections and dermatological problems. After submission of evidence of the use of neem tree and its products from the ancient times patent offered was revoked. Again the traditional knowledge of India was again safeguarded.
The US patent office offered patent to Basmati rice to Ricetec. It is aromatic rice which is grown in India and Pakistan several centuries back. Rice is the staple food of the Asian countries, and the farmers worked hard to come up with a distinct variety of rice. Ricetec applied for a patent for a particular strand of rice variety called Basmati to the US patent office. Thus to control the production and sale of this high-quality variety of rice, the patent was applied. Plant protection was a proponent in the US, and hence the patent application for the rice variety was accepted. Thus the rice was labeled as Superior Basmati Rice. Ricetec somehow tried and protected its patent rights of the rice variety. Thus TKDL played a vital role in the protection of traditional knowledge of India.