India moves to protect traditional medicinal knowledge

February 9th, 2009 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 9 (IANS) India has established a mechanism to protect its traditional medicinal knowledge from bio-piracy.

The maiden Indian effort in creating a Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) database would now be available to the Patent Examiners at the European Patent Office (EPO), which has 34 member states, an official statement said Monday.

This is meant for establishing prior art, in case of patent applications based on Indian systems of medicine.

The accessibility of the data base has come into operation from Feb 2,

Minister of State for Health Panabaka Lakshmi said.

Speaking on the occasion, S. Jalaja, secretary in the ministry, said: “We are (now) in a position to forcefully protect our traditional knowledge”.

The genesis of this maiden Indian effort dates back to 2000 when an interdisciplinary Task Force of experts was set up to devise a mechanism to protect the country’s traditional knowledge in medicine.

The TKDL expert group estimated that about 2,000 number of wrong patents concerning Indian systems of medicine were being granted every year at the international level.

This was mainly because India’s traditional medicine knowledge existed in languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, Urdu and Tamil. This was neither accessible nor understood by patent examiners at the international patent offices due to language and format barriers.

Today, through TKDL, India is capable of protecting about 200,000 medical formulations similar to neem and turmeric.

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