Friday, June 30, 2006

More Action to Protect Traditional Knowledge

India’s initiative to fix traditional knowledge into tangible form/documentation, in order to prevent overseas scientists and multinationals companies to patent it, is moved to next level. Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) created by the National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR) will be now made accessible to patent examiners all across the world to refer whether invention is based on traditional knowledge already available in the India or not. Union Cabinet on June 29, 2006 has approved a proposal to sign a non-disclosure agreement with patent offices across the world to allow patent examiners to access the TKDL which if signed, patent offices across the world will be obliged to refer to the TKDL to assess whether remedy is new or is based on knowledge already available in the Indian systems of medicines, as and when scientists apply for such patents. According to NISCAIR Director V.K. Gupta data on 65,000 formulations in Ayurveda, 70,000 in Unani and 3,000 in Siddha had already been put in the TKDL. The data relating to only 7,000 formulations each in Unani and Siddha, and 1,500 postures in yoga remained to be included and expected to be included by December 2007. The TKDL data will be available in five international languages – English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese for 24x7 on secured portal as per the terms and conditions of the access agreement. One of the salient features of the agreement will be that the patent offices will use it only for patent search and examination and only disclose it to third party when essential for the purpose of patent search and examination. The latter feature is included to prevent misappropriation and misuse of traditional knowledge at patent offices. TKDL is an online library for documentation of data in the public domain on codified systems of traditional medicines with aim of preventing fraudulent patents. TKDL is created by joint efforts of NISCAIR, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and department of AYUSH.

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