Tag Archives: India

Prevention of bio-piracy in India; the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL)

Back in February last year we blogged an item about Indian TK being made available to the EPO to help prevent bio-piracy. “Sharing database on Indian traditional knowledge extends greater protection from misappropriation

It is now great to be able to blog news items that show this initiative has had some success!  The Item from Yahoo News, India “EPO rejects 15 patent applications for bio-piracy” says:

European Patent Office (EPO) has rejected 15 patent applications of various international companies during the past one year after it found they had used India’s traditional medicinal knowledge to prepare certain products. The action was taken after the government entered into an access agreement with EPO in February last year to share India’s traditional medicinal knowledge and prevent the practice of foreign companies taking patent on Indian systems of medicine.

Another specific example of the utility of the database can be seen on Asian Times Online “India scores bio-piracy victory” regarding the “pudina patent” from 2007 in connection with treatment of avian flu.  See also item on the Times of India, “India foils Chinese bid to patent pudina

(thanks to B. Hanumanth Rao for sending me the Yahoo! News, India link)

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For further information see:

Free download of paper “Defensive Publishing: A Strategy for Maintaining Intellectual Property as Public Goods – Briefing Paper

Prior art project in the CGIAR.  Facilitated by CAS-IP, lead centre ICRISAT

TKDL introduction & milestones

“In India, Wal-Mart Goes to the Farm”

Increasingly, multinational companies are establishing raw material production in developing countries to feed their supply chains. An April 12th article in The New York  Times reported on Wal-Mart’s expansion in India and the establishment of its own local vegetable production to supply new retail stores.

Other companies have stepped out of their core businesses and invested in agricultural production to secure raw material supply chains. Michelin owns rubber plantations in Brazil, and Mercedes Benz and Leyte State University in the Philippines work together on a project that is intended to supply Mercedes with fibres from banana plants for car seats. Hoegh, a Norwegian logistics company, owns orange and apple plantations in southern Africa, using its logistical networks to produce and market locally produced orange and apple juice.

The question is, under what circumstances these investments happen and how they affect local markets?  Wal-Mart has engaged in supporting Indian farmers with training and inputs, and farmers are reporting increased yields.  Food prices are expected to drop when Wal-Mart expands this business model. On the downside, this model – with its tightly integrated supply chains – places more market power in fewer hands and, thus, might contribute to the consolidation of markets. The Times observes that:

Not everyone is happy about the company’s presence here. Many Indian activists and policy makers abhor big-box retailing, fearing that it will drive India’s millions of shopkeepers out of business.

In mature markets like Europe and the USA such effects are buffered by competition and regulation, but in less mature markets this might lead to farmer dependency on a single buyer.

But whatever the long-term outcomes of this trend, Wal-Mart (and others) have introduced innovative and sustainable techniques.  The Times describes how:

… visitors can see some curious experiments: insect traps made with reusable plastic bags; bamboo poles helping bitter gourd grow bigger and straighter; and seedlings germinating from plastic trays under a fine net.

 Post written by Sebastian Derwisch, consultant to CAS-IP

Father of Grass Root Innovation: Prof. Anil K. Gupta and His Ideologies

Special thanks to Sahida Kamri who is a blogger on the Gen-X blog – a blog created by the budding IP and technology management professionals of India. Bloggers are students of PGD-IPTMA Course, National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), India.  The following post was written and submitted by Sahida Kamri for the CAS-IP blog:

Father of Grass Root Innovation: Prof. Anil K. Gupta and His Ideologies

Prof. Anil K. GuptaProfessor Anil Kumar Gupta, a senior faculty at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad is successfully blending knowledge of grassroot innovators with corporate houses.  He is the executive vice-chairman of NIF (National Innovation Foundation).  In an interview with The Wall Street Journal | India he talks about cross-pollination work of grassroots innovations, ideas on globalization, technology commons and his experience with big industries as well as Government.  The persistent and dedicated work of NIF under his leadership has more than 120,000 grass root innovations and traditional knowledge practices.  These are documented from fields such as agriculture, animal and human medicines, herbal drugs, mechanical devices, rural technologies from the informal and unorganized sector of rural and urban India.  Prof. Anil K Gupta’s contribution for grass root innovators and rural people has been also recently discussed in the blog Gen – X ideas on IP.

How did it start?

In 1986, after a tour of Bangladesh Prof. Anil K Gupta seriously thought about helping poor rural people.  He worked hard to create recognition and awareness around the importance of grass root innovators in the formal system.  He also took the initiative to document traditional knowledge, some of which is now on the edge of extinction.  This vision developed into the National Innovation Foundation. Established under the Department of Science and technology, Government of India on 28th February, 2000, the main aim being to scout, document and scale sustainable innovations, and to help innovators from the informal sector get their products to market through incubation and business development.  NIF helps in protecting Intellectual Property rights of grass-root innovators and documents their various innovations and traditional practices.  It also helps in the technology transfer of suitable technologies.  57 technologies have been already licensed.  The former President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam has been a great supporter and guide to NIF since its inception and highly appreciates Prof. A.K. Gupta’s efforts.  A database of innovations and medicinal plants in various languages is maintained by NIF.  Two appendages of NIF are SRISTI and GIAN which provide complete support to it in all its activities.

Shodh Yatra – A journey to reach knowledge

More than ten years ago Prof. Anil K Gupta learned about a creative idea called “Shodh Yatra”, one he has continued.  Shodh Yatra is a journey on foot through the remote areas of India for the exploration of knowledge, creativity and innovations at grassroots.  The main aim of the journey is to understand and document traditional knowledge and grassroots innovations that have not only simplified the lives of men, women and farm workers but have also significantly contributed towards the conservation of bio-diversity. Prof. Gupta used to conduct Shodh Yatra twice in a year especially in summer and winter to share knowledge across rural India. Our Organization NAARM (National Academy of Agricultural Research Management) with NIF had organized Shodh Yatra (we called it Gyan Shodh) for students of PGD IPTMA (Post Graduate Diploma in Intellectual Property and Technology Management). It was a great experience and learning for us, the report of the Gyan Shodh is available on the internet. His work and noble thought inspired us to join the Shodh Yatra.

India is really blessed having a son like Prof. Anil K. Gupta.  He is a true role model to be followed by the youth of nation.  His many ideologies such as respect to traditional practices as well as grass root innovations, belief in sustainable technologies etc match with that of the Father of Nation – Mahatma Gandhi.  He works for India but his essence of work has spread globally.

IP case studies from four agricultural research institutions in developing countries

http://www.cas-ip.org/public/uploads/2009/04/compilation_of_4_working_papers_npi_2008.pdf

The National Partners Initiative (NPI) of CAS-IP has published this week a compilation of 4 working papers entitled: “Institutionalization of Intellectual Property Management: Case Studies from four Agricultural Research Institutions in Developing Countries”.  The full text can be viewed by clicking on the lead link above. These case studies aim to share country experiences from developing countries in the areas surrounding IP policy making, policy implementation and use of IPRs by researchers for leveraging more benefits to the stakeholders, people, institutions and countries. The results of the case studies have been prepared as four working papers. The working papers are on the following topics:

Intellectual Property Management Regime in the Indian National Agricultural Research Systems
(R. Kalpana Sastry, India)

This case study presents an overview of the changing environment for public research organizations in the Indian Agricultural Research System with respect to intellectual property management. In its commitment to cater to its broader societal objectives, the system has been challenged with growing sovereignty and restrictions on the sharing of germplasm, privatization of knowledge, and pressures to reduce demands on public finances through the commercialization of research products. Starting with a review of the relevant legal and policy documents to understand the background of the obligations at national and at the international level, followed by a brief review of the role and functions played by some statutory agencies in India, the implications for the National Agricultural Research System were studied. Against the realization of need for IP policy for the large system, the provisions and governance model of the new IP policy of the national agricultural organization like the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was analyzed. Then the implementation of guidelines now in place for two constituent institutes Project Directorate of Poultry (PDP) and Directorate of Rice Research (DRR), animal- based and crop-based institutes respectively, were studied in detail from the IP policy perspective. The study highlights on the implementation of guidelines, structural adjustments in decision making activities in IP management at institutes and at understanding the specific issues of IP management relevant to the research mandate of these institutes.

Establishment of Plant Breeders’ Rights System in Tanzania: Achievements and Challenges
(Patrick Ngwediagi, Tanzania)

The study is on establishment of plant breeders’ rights system in Tanzania: achievements and challenges seeks to review appropriateness of the current plant breeders’ rights system in Tanzania and its contribution to an effective sui generis system, and attempts to formulate an appropriate model in line with the TRIPS Agreement. The results indicate a need for a benchmark review of process of activities to be useful towards the creation and operationalization of a sui generis system. The involvement of the stakeholders in this exercise in Tanzania proved to be very useful exercise and should be continued as many other developing countries develop models to suit the needs in their niche areas. The findings suggest a strong need of such actions to enable policy makers take prudent decisions while complying with the TRIPs agreement. Issues of benefit sharing and access to biological resources especially in PVP context need to evolve if the IP protection systems are to bring the needed changes for the stakeholders.

A Review of the Nigerian System of Intellectual Property
(Victor M. Ibigbami and Christopher U. Orji, Nigeria)

Nigeria is taking steps to comply with the new IP regime ushered in by the WTO TRIPS and supported by African Union (AU). The issues such as Plant Variety Protection (PVP) and patent for microorganisms are technological in nature and the country should exercise the sui generis option provided in the TRIPS agreement to develop suitable laws. It is necessary that such laws may have instruments to be able to be used beyond the country’s existing IP framework like through the aegis of AU Model Law. This study also points to the need to amend the National Crop Varieties and Livestock Breeds Registration and Release Committee Decree 33 of 1987 in Nigeria to provide space for Plant Variety Protection (PVP), Animal Breeders Rights, and Farmers’ Rights. The Committee is currently administered by the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) in the Ministry of Science and Technology and institutional mechanism should be put in place. Analysis of two grants relating to biotechnological related inventions and consequent efforts for licensing the technology indicate the need for regulation of such inventions in terms of best practices methods. Providing strong legal mechanisms for biotechnological inventions through National Biotechnology Law may lead to institutionalizing the norms for biosafety through institutions like National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA). This will help regulate research on microorganisms in terms of IP creation, benefit sharing and on biopharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals which the patent law presently does not address. It is envisaged that such measures would lead to increased investment in technology development and the resulting products can better the lives of the people of Nigeria.

Establishing a Technology Transfer Office in an Academic Institution in a Developing Country: Experience of Moi University
(Antony S. Mbayaki, Kenya)

The study relates to the experience of Moi University (in Eldoret Kenya) on the establishment of the first technology transfer office in a university or public research institution in Kenya. This study indicates the efforts of the policy makers leading to the establishment of the office at the institutional level. Nuances in the process of establishment, the challenges that faced and continue to open up, the manner of countering and overcoming have been discussed. The success and the roadblocks during the process serve as vital lessons for several other organizations that are now in the process of establishing Technology Transfer Office (TTO) in academic institutions especially in Africa. The study indicates that the benefits accrued through such offices placed in institutions of higher learning are enormous. If technology transfer has to be disseminated to reach to end users in a climate of ‘win-win’ situation, it is necessary to institutionalize the technology transfer in all institutes. Since the provisions in law have to be actualized and enforced, TTOs will have a major role in overseeing that potential and actual through sound IP management reach all stakeholders.

Post written by Karine Malgrand     consultant to CAS-IP

NEW! Post Graduate Diploma in Intellectual Property and Technology Management in Agriculture (PGD-IPTMA)

http://spicyipindia.blogspot.com/2009/03/new-pg-dip-course-in-ip-and-technology.html
The news that NAARM, the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management  has launched a specialised course in IP in India was reported on the SpicyIP blog this week.  The blog reports that:

“The course seeks to create a pool of “bridge professionals” who are equipped to develop IP assets in the agricultural sector by integrating agricultural research developments with industry needs, and strategically leveraging these assets for technology dissemination in the agri-food sector.”

For more information you can visit the relevant pages on NAARMs website.

CAS-IP would like to extend special congratulations to NAARM on this important announcement.  We have had the pleasure of working with the course director, Dr Kalpana Sastry, who is an active member of the National Partners Initiative.  Congratulations Kalpana!

Sharing database on Indian traditional knowledge extends greater protection from misappropriation

Link to news item on Spicy IP

Link to news item on the EPO database

Spicy IP reports the signing of an agreement between the Indian Government and the EPO to enable access to India’s Traditional Knowledge digital library (TKDL).  The library itself is an impressive undertaking! Looking at the database website they talk of their wish to act as:

“a bridge between traditional knowledge information existing in local languages and the patent examiners at IPOs(international patent offices).”

To do this they have made information from the public domain available digitally, and in 5 international languages. Some of these materials were orginally written in Sanskrit, Hindi or Arabic.  The EPO article mentions how the Chinese Patent Office (SIPO) opened their database on traditional Chinese medicine to the EPO in 2008.  It also highlighted that these initiatives bring advantages to both parties.

“… it helps protect India’s traditional knowledge from misappropriation and gives the EPO additional relevant information for granting properly defined patents”.

Many thanks to both Kalapana Sastry from NAARM and Antony Mbayaki from Moi University who brought this item to my attention for the blog.

If this topic is of interest to you, Victoria Henson-Apollonio co-authored a paper on Defensive Publishing that is available for free download from the CAS-IP website.

How do IPRs and IP help public agricultural research in developing/emerging economy countries?

the National Partners Initiative
I’m continuing to blog from the the National Partners Initiative workshop being held in Mombasa.  I have been talking to the participants this week about where they see IP making a positive contribution in agricultural research in their countries.  I wanted to take this opportunity to share on this blog some of the comments:

From Indonesia:
“IP rights encourage scientists to develop their career & innovation.  Patents and copyright provided incentives at a national research centre’ ”

From Malaysia:
“IP helps the potential to commercialize an R&D project.  It adds value to the R&D and indicates a certain quality standard”

From China:
“IP improved income into local breeding institute”

From Tanzania
“breeders work hard to find their own varieties – it gives breeder incentives and boosts their innovation when they have Plant Variety Protection”

From India:
“the grant of USPTO protection in the well-known cases of Tumeric and Basmati changed the face of IP in India.  Law makers were mobilised and sped up the implementation of TRIPS.  This has helped protect traditional knowledge and build livelihoods for producers in India.”

From Kenya:
“IP awareness has an impact on the attention paid to IP clauses in agreements.  It helps parties to understand roles and responsibilities and helps manage risk.  By formalising in this way partnerships are more effective because a mutual understanding is reached.”