To combat bio-piracy, India has documented over two lakh formulations of its traditional medicines and yoga postures into the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), comprising 34 million pages of information translated into five languages, including English.
“TKDL is an effort to protect our traditional knowledge, mainly traditional medicine and yoga postures from misappropriation through patents granted abroad as had happened with the use of ‘neem’ and ‘haldi’,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters.
He said the government has already granted the European Patent Office (EPO) access to the Digital Library, to allow EPO examiners to evaluate patent applications and to better evaluate attempts to patent traditional knowledge as “new” inventions.
“Similar agreement was signed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) during the Summit between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November last year. Similar agreements are being negotiated with other countries,” Mr. Ramesh added.
The Minister pointed out that at least 36 cases have been identified so far by the EPO using TKDL, of which eight have already been resolved in India’s favour while the rest are being processed.
“Similarly, forty cases have already been cited by the USPTO,” he added.
The government is also working to set up a people’s Register of Biodiversity, so that traditional knowledge passed down through the oral tradition can also be documented and protected.