Traditional Knowledge: Use or Misuse?
First Publication Date: 28th October 2010.
Misuse of traditional knowledge and measures to prevent the same have been attracting attention since the turmeric patent controversy. After successfully revoking turmeric patent claims that formed part of traditional knowledge, the Indian government has taken numerous initiatives ranging from legislative and policy changes to documentation and creation of a library of information (TKDL). With the press and media joining the effort, the awareness with respect to rights of traditional knowledge holders , actions against traditional knowledge misuse, policy initiatives and so on has been increasing. The TKDL has been playing an important role in revoking and preventing patents on traditional knowledge. Industry and public reaction with respect to patent filings involving traditional knowledge has been aggressive and many times emotional.
Recently, the Association of Manufactures of Ayurvedic Medicines and other activists have alleged that the patent granted to Colgate with respect to a herbal dentifrice in USA amounts to misuse of traditional knowledge. As per many news reports, the patent is being called as a ‘bogus patent’ (a word that does not mean anything) by activists. The primary concern of the association is that the ingredients of the composition claimed in the patent include clove oil, camphor, black pepper and spearmint, which are well known and therefore not patentable.