US Patent Claims Over Indian Traditional Knowledge – Who is Right?

Traditional Knowledge is often considered as the soul of knowledge which has been illuminated, encouraged, and elapsed on from generation to generation within a particular community. It slowly and gradually becomes part of the spiritual or cultural identity. Traditional Knowledge, in other words, can be described as the ancient roots that are unpretentious, oral, and simple, which is not covered and guarded by the stereotypical cultured property defense system. This has encouraged many other developing countries to establish and generate their own significant and specific systems for shielding the traditional knowledge.

India has played a vital role in the acquaintance of Traditional Knowledge and hence bought protection of Traditional Knowledge as the basis of the International Intellectual Property System. The presentation of TKDL – Traditional Knowledge Digital Library ingress by the Indian Government has guided many patent filing in India to either withdrawn, canceled or modified in diverse International Patent Offices.

Traditional Knowledge Digital Library The Indian Government introduced and launched TKDL and came to power because of India's effort on official cancellation of the patent on turmeric properties regarding wound healing at the USPTO. The European Patent Office – EPO also granted a patent on the neem's antifungal properties.

The Traditional Medicinal Knowledge of India is deeply rooted in many local languages such as Hindi, Arabic, Tamil, Sanskrit, Urdu, etc. is neither attainable nor intelligible for the International Patent Office's Patent Examiners. The expert group of TKDL identified in the year 2005 that around the world approximately 2000 patents were annually granted Indian System of Medicine by the Patent Office across the globe. The contents of the Indian Systems of Medicine's text is provided by the TKDL that IS Siddha, Ayurvedic, Yoga, and Unani in five international languages specifically Japanese, English, German, French, and Spanish with the guidance of innovative classification system and information technology resource.

The usage of intellectual property systems to authorize and permit the control and ownership over biological products and resources that have been in use for more than a decade in non-industrialized society can be called as the `bio-piracy.' Traditional Knowledge is exceedingly vulnerable due to the biopiracy of the encroachment, lack of appropriate legal systems, devolution, clash of systems, and bio protecting rush. Biological resources are linked with traditional knowledge, which is an element of biodiversity. With the help of TK, one can develop best processes, practices, or systems which are helpful for mankind without much investment for research, thus saving time, energy, and money. In the past few years, many cases of biopiracy of TK have been reported. So let’s look at the most well-known cases of TK’s biopiracy.

Turmeric Cases A tropical herb which is grown in East India is the Turmeric. The powder of Turmeric is used mostly in almost all the medicines, food, and few dyes. For example, turmeric is used to treat cold and acts as the blood purifier and also antiparasitic for infections related to skin. It is also the main ingredients in cooking in Indian Dishes. The University of Mississippi was awarded wound healing property for the turmeric patent in the year 1995. The CSIR objected and provided documentation evidence, but the fact remained from ages that it is a healing property. It was later approved by the USPTO that the patent was anticipated and obvious and supported the turmeric can be used as an ancient art for healing wounds. Hence, TK that was India's property was safeguarded in Turmeric Cases.

Neem Patent W.R.Grace, USA filed the first patent for Neem. It is a method used to control the fungi in contact with the Neem Oil Formation. India filed against the Patent and was filed by the New Delhi Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in association with International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. The Neem tree finds its roots in India with many potent compounds like the barks, leaves, flowers, seeds and more to treat diseases relating to skin disorders, antiseptic, leprosy, diabetes, and ulcers. The evidence was submitted describing the usage of Neem for decades of India through the Indian Ayurvedic Texts. The EPO identified and accepted that it was India’s TK.

Hence, the IP approved the importance of correct documentation of India’s TK and very well played a defensive role in the IP system.

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