In a move that will help thwart attempts by foreign MNCs and individuals to get patents and trademark on ancient yoga techniques, the government has shortlisted over 1500 asanas and videographed over 250, classifying them as “traditional knowledge” of the country.
The initiative will be a part of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), a unit of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of the Ministry of Science and Technology, which challenges claims made at several patent offices across the globe by individuals and MNCs.
“Our experts have identified over 1500 yoga techniques from the literature available from our ancient texts and what is available now. Nearly 250 asanas have been video graphed already. It should take five or six months to complete the process, after which it can be the part of the database.
“Once that happens, any attempt to claim patent on the Indian yoga techniques practiced since ancient time can be thwarted,” said Archana Sharma, head of TKDL.
It has been observed that several patents have been issued in the West for various yoga techniques. Many have copyright on those.
The government decided to form the TKDL after the bitter experience of some MNCs claiming patents for neem and turmeric in the last two decades. Getting a patent issued to a US MNC revoked for turmeric, alone cost over a million dollars in legal expenses, travel and other costs.
Following this, it was decided to form TKDL. Today its database has over 2.93 lakh medicines, their properties indicating that those have been traditionally used for cure in Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha systems. The information is also present in Spanish, German, English, Japanese and French languages.
The database is shared with the European Patent Office (EPO), United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), German Patent Office (GPO), Intellectual Property Australia (IPA), Japanese Patent Office (JPO) and Chile Patent Office (CPO) under a “non-disclosure” pact.
“So, every time when any individual or any MNC files for patent, the major patent offices refer to the TKDL base. On our part, a team is constantly monitoring the patents that are being filed. So, we also file pre-grant opposition. There have been cases when the patent applications were crossed checked with the TKDL database and queries were raised. Following that the applicants withdrew their claims.
“Since 2009, TKDL has thwarted over 200 claims,” said Sharma.
Over the past one month, India has thwarted two attempts at patenting Indian traditional medicines, which again included turmeric.
Last month Europe’s Leading Dermaceutical Laboratory – Pangaea Laboratories Limited’s attempt to take patent on a medicinal composition containing turmeric, pine bark and green tea for treating hair loss was foiled.
The same month, India thwarted another attempt by Colgate-Palmolive Company to patent a mouthwash formula containing herb (Nutmeg- Jayaphal) extract used in Indian traditional systems of medicine to cure oral diseases, at European Patent office.