India has already woken up to the task of protecting her traditional knowledge available in the public domain by digitizing its resourceful content, so that nobody can claim patent on them, through ‘Traditional Knowledge Digital Library’ (TKDL), a collaborative project between CSIR and Department of AYUSH.
Usually, I am quite vocal about the misdeeds of our government organizations and employees. But, this is one such initiative where Indians can really feel proud of the government’s achievement; something which even other nations are looking forward to emulate India’s footsteps.
India has around 5000 years of history during which period many great personalities and even common people have mastered the knowledge in various fields such as medicine, mathematics, naturopathy, meditation and yoga, science, etc.
The West has time-and-again tried to patent and misappropriate knowledge of basic things which are part of our society for almost hundreds and thousands of years. The most undesirable of them was the US Patent and Trademark Office granting patent rights on Basmati rice and grains to RiceTec, based on the firm’s false claim of having invented traits of rice lines and plants, which are characteristics found in our traditional Basmati varieties.
For Basmati rice which is prominently grown in North India and Pakistan, the patent grant to RiceTec meant that no Indian or Pakistani company could sell original Basmati rice without coming into conflict with that company. It took years for India and Pakistan to fight against that patent and get it struck down from its core claims.
Further, a report points out that India has also made available a database describing 1300 yoga postures and videography of 200 popular among these, to international patent offices through TKDL, as part of efforts to prevent patent pirates from exploiting it for commercial purposes.
Thus, a TKDL-like model plays a crucial role in documenting precious national heritage in the areas of traditional health care systems, preventing bio-piracy and grant of wrong patents at the International Patent offices – creating an enabling model that could prevent misappropriation of traditional knowledge and global intellectual property systems.
In latest, representatives of over 35 countries have expressed interest in replicating India’s TKDL model for preventing misappropriation of knowledge and cultural heritage from grant of wrongful patents by any of the trilateral offices, where most of the international patent applications gets filed, like US Patent and Trademark Office, European Patent Office and Japan Patent Office.
Moreover, a TKDL study also reveals a sharp decline of 44% on filing of patent applications concerning Indian systems of medicine at European Patent Office.