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A Round table on “Protection of Traditional Knowledge / Traditional Cultural Expression – Evolving a Sui-Generis Model for India

First Publication Date: 27th January 2010 A Round Table conference on Protection of Traditional knowledge was concluded recently (January 25-26, 2010) at National Law School of India University, Bangalore. The two day conference was held for the deliberations on the Sui-Generis Model developed for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge / Traditional Cultural Expression. One of the highlights of the discussion was The Traditional Knowledge (Protection and Regulation to Access) bill 2009 (Hereinafter called as “Bill”) drafted by NLSIU, Bangalore. To leave a comment on the article please click here This Bill is the first ever attempt made in India for a separate and...

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Public Access to TKDL under an Open Source Model

First Publication Date: 16th January 2010 This is in furtherance of the post on opening the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) for public access in order to further research and development of traditional knowledge. As I had stated in my post, making TKDL available under an open source model would enable the development of traditional knowledge and also safeguard the interests of traditional knowledge holders ("Holders"). The model I am proposing hereunder is based on the success of the Open Source Software (OSS) model. To give a quick overview, the OSS model is based on OSS licenses that grant rights to copy,...

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The Art of Body Work: Intellectual Property and Yoga Massage

The featured image is the logo of IMOSHA - Inner Mountain School of Healing Arts at Mysore. To read more click here.

"Working with the body is an art more than a skill," Mr. Raghavendra tells his students of 'Yoga Massage' in his very first class. It is in fact fascinating to watch him express, original body work with elements of creativity that surpass intellectual property standards and take a substantial lead. While many body work sequences are based on traditional practices, several practitioners and therapists have over the years developed novel and creative sequences for various reasons ranging from recipient requirement to purely artistic expression. It might not be an exaggeration to state that every practitioner creates and performs original postures, sequences,...

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Traditional Knowledge:The Curious Case of Turmeric Latte

The featured image shows powdered turmeric in a steel bowl with a spoon inserted inside. This post deals with traditional knowledge associated with turmeric. To know more, please click here.

Turmeric Latte is experiencing a wide following and has attained a cult status in the market abroad. From Sydney to San Francisco, cafes and restaurants are adding turmeric latte to their menus and the rising popularity of the same is reflected in the gradual loss of sales of different coffee lattes.The Guardian analyzing the market demand has given Turmeric Latte a title - ‘2016’s drink of choice’. Google, too in its report of November 2015 to January 2016 has mentioned turmeric latte as a rising star as the search for turmeric saw a steep ascent of fifty six percent. It is...

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National IPR Policy – Traditional Knowledge Related Objectives

The image depicts a round plate with various spices like turmeric, cumin seeds, cinnamon, fenu greek placed on it. This post relates to traditional knowledge. For more information click here.

India approved its first ever Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy with a vision to stimulate creativity and innovation and to promote advancement in science and technology, arts and culture, traditional knowledge and biodiversity resources. The policy lays out seven broad objectives and they are as follows: Awareness: outreach and promotion; Generation of IPRs; Legal and legislative framework; Administration and management; Commercialization of IPR; Enforcement and adjudication; and Human capital development. This article considers various provisions relating to traditional knowledge under the new IPR Policy. Traditional knowledge refers to the well-established long-standing practices and locally developed innovations preserved and utilized over centuries by communities. The...

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Intellectual Property: Weekly Warm up with Sinapse!

This image reads Weekly warm up with Sinapse. This post aims to be a quick capsule of all the IP related activity of the past week. Click on the image to read the full post.

Last week on Sinapse, here’s all that happened!


…MNCs are focusing on in-sourcing rather than outsourcing due to their inability to protect the confidential information that gets outsourced. It further discusses in-sourcing and outsourcing of a company related to IP.


…To gain control of Motorola’s patent portfolio, Google bought it for US$ 12.5 billion. However, Google is now letting go of the handset business, along with 2,000 patents, handing these to Lenovo. Lenovo has now gotten hold of Motorola handset for US$ 2.91 billion from Google.

Traditional knowledge: Indian IP Laws to protect Traditional Culture and Folklore: Are they on the mark?

This image depicts ayurvedic preparations in a crucible. This post talks about the patentability of traditional knowledge. Click on the image to read the full post.

Most places in the world, where traditional knowledge and folklore exist, face the challenge of multiculturalism and cultural diversity because they have both indigenous and immigrant communities. A balance has to be struck between the protection and preservation of cultural experience and traditional. Efficient cultural policies are required to meet the above challenges and free exchange of cultural experiences is required to make policies for effective protection of the same.

A further challenge is to balance a wish to preserve traditional cultures with a desire to stimulate tradition-based creativity as a contribution to sustainable economic development. Addressing these challenges provokes some deeper questions.

Traditional Knowledge: Indian Traditional Knowledge: Prior Art for European Patent on Obesity Treatment

This image depicts a burger with layers depicting the risks of obesity, including heart diseases and Cancer. A medicine to treat obesity and hunger has been asked to be patented. Did this exist in European ancient knowledge? Click on the image to read the full post.

A US based company, Somalab filed a patent application (Publication No. EP 2419508) entitled Method for the induction of a reward response by modulation of dopaminergic systems in the central nervous system, at the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2010 on the usefulness of Lotus and Cowhage (a herb) for the treatment of obesity and hunger. The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), a unit of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) had submitted prior art evidence in the form of references from ancient books and texts citing evidence that the plants have been used alone or in combination along with other ingredients for the treatment of obesity, polyphagia/excessive hunger and overeating, in the traditional Indian system of medicine. TKDL submitted all its evidence specifying that these plants were used traditionally for the treatment of obesity and hunger control.

Since time immemorial, India has possessed a rich traditional knowledge of ways and means practiced to treat diseases. This valuable knowledge has generally been passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation. A part of this knowledge has been described in ancient classical and other literature, often inaccessible to the common man and even when accessible, rarely understood. Documentation of this existing knowledge, available in the public domain, on various traditional systems of medicine has become imperative to safeguard the sovereignty of this Traditional Knowledge and to protect it from being misappropriated in the form of patents on non-original innovations, and which has been a matter of national concern.

Traditional Knowledge: Traditional Knowledge Digital Library: Boon or Bane? – Part 3

This image depicts logo of TKDL. This image is relevant as the post is about Traditional Knowledge and Digital Library. Click on this image for more information

Taking forward the series, after our previous parts, 1 and 2, we would now look at TKDL in some more detail.

A major issue with TKDL is that important data like medicinal knowledge will only be documented, but never be considered prior art. In the cases of Neem and Turmeric, infringement on the ground of Lack of Novelty led to a granted patent being revoked, due to the existence of ancient or other documents, in the form of prior art, that prove that knowledge already existed.

Presently, in TKDL, a search of the word “Turmeric” would show results with details of “useful in the treatment of following disease”, “IPC Code”, “time since when knowledge was known”, “bibliography” and “keyword(s) / Ingredient(s)”. The search, whether simple or advanced (as explained in Part 2), would not explain the cause for such a property exhibited by turmeric. The search also shows those medicines which have turmeric as one of their ingredients. The texts that support or prove the use of such a combination may be ancient Ayurvedic texts.

Traditional Knowledge: Traditional Knowledge Digital Library: Boon or Bane? – Part 1

This image depicts logo of TKDL. This image is relevant as the post is about Traditional Knowledge and Digital Library. Click on this image for more information

The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) project was initiated in the year 2001 as a sequel to the battles fought by India against the patents granted by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) for Turmeric and Basmati Rice and the Neem patent granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in the 1990’s so that there would exist proper documentation of its rich Traditional Knowledge.

Initiative to digitally record our existing traditional knowledge happened around 1999, when, the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy-(AYUSH), the erstwhile Department of Indian System of Medicine and Homoeopathy (ISM&H) constituted an inter-disciplinary Task Force, for creating an approach paper on establishing the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL). An inter-disciplinary team of Traditional Medicine (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga) Experts, Patent Examiners, IT Experts, Scientists and Technical Officers are involved in creation of TKDL for Indian Systems of Medicine.