Special Correspondent

Thiruvananthapuram: The August issue of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) magazine features a detailed write-up on the Kerala State Intellectual Property Rights Policy 2008, with special focus on rights creation on traditional knowledge.

Prepared by R.S. Praveen Raj, Scientist – IP Management & Technology Transfer, National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science & Technology (NIIST), the write-up highlights the proposed legislation to prevent misappropriation of traditional knowledge (TK) and knowledge associated with biodiversity.

It mentions the policy approach outlining the government’s concern about protecting the rich traditional wealth of the State comprising traditional knowledge practices, tribal medicines, Ayurveda practices and biodiversity. In the absence of legal property rights, this precious asset runs the risk of being appropriated by private businesses, the policy states.

Citing the policy document, the article says that codification of TK into digital libraries is not a complete solution to misappropriation. Hence, the possible solution could be to create rights on traditional knowledge and make its potential right holders aware of their rights.

According to the article, the Policy seeks to commit all traditional knowledge to the realm of ‘Knowledge Commons’ and not to the ‘Public Domain.’ All the right holders will hold their rights under a ‘Commons License,’ under which the right holders shall permit others the use of the knowledge in their possession for non-commercial purposes. The article highlights the proposal to set up a Kerala Traditional Knowledge Authority (KTKA) to register right holders and recommend legal action against the violators of the rights and ‘Common License.’

Though the Policy envisages the transfer of the developments made on TK back to the realm of ‘Knowledge Commons,’ path-breaking inventions like development of a new drug molecule or the process thereof which involves substantial developmental cost need not form part of the ‘Knowledge Commons’ in the strict sense, even if TK may form the basis of its origin, according to Dr. Raj.

Available in English, French and Spanish, the bimonthly seeks to inform readers about WIPO-led activities.