High Time to Protect Granny’s Remedies?

It might be very common for us to fall back on granny’s home remedies for a sore throat or an upset stomach. But have we ever wondered whether such ‘traditional knowledge’ acquired from our ancestors are duly protected from being commercially exploited by corporates, particularly pharmaceutical companies? The immediate need for a law to protect such knowledge was mooted in 2014 after instances surfaced where corporates attempted to claim exclusive rights over them Although in 2016, a private Bill ‘Traditional Knowledge Act’ was moved in the Lok Sabha, intellectual property (IP) professionals say it’s high time the bill is enacted.

They point out that by if just creating a digital repository – Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) – India was capable of protecting about 2 lakh medicinal formulations including 36,000 Ayurveda formulations from being exploited, including an attempt by China to patent the use of medicinal plants mint and kalamegha (Andrographis) to treat bird flu, introduction of a legislation will increase the scope of protection of such knowledge. And with some recent cases of biopiracy, there is more need to safeguard, apply and harness these technologies. If not these IP assets would either be lost to others or fade away

P Sanjay Gandhi, president of Intellectual Property Rights Attorney Association (IPRAA) has written to speaker of Lok Sabha and chairman of Rajya Sabha requesting them to take necessary steps for enactment of the bill.

TKDL contains 3.4 crore pages of information on 2,260,000 medicinal formulations in multiple languages. It is designed to assist patent examiners of major IP offices across the world in carrying out prior art searches before granting patents. It bridges the linguistic gap between traditional knowledge expressed in languages like Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian and Tamil .and those used by patent examiners of major IP offices.

This apart, European patent based on 13 medical plants were prevented by India using TKDL so far, which includes, an anti-cancer drug, anti-vitiligo cream, drugs treating diabetics, obesity and cardio tonics.

Source : Economic Times

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