Tag Archives: traditional knowledge

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)


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

Expression of interest; Indigenous Agricultural Knowledge in the Pacific

The following text is an email that was recently circulated for an expression of interest for a study. (Thanks Helen for forwarding).  Applications close on 15 July 2010.

The text of the email reads:

CTA/SPC Initiative:

Indigenous Agricultural Knowledge in the Pacific

Expression of interest are invited for provision of consultancy services to undertake independent, rigorous and detailed study to assist SPC provide its member PICTs with the appropriate tools to protect and promote traditional/indigenous knowledge, specifically within the context of the ITPGRFA, at the regional and national levels.

The scope of activities should include (but is not limited to);

*      A review of international, regional and/or national and/or local initiatives and best practices to comply with Article 9 of the ITPGRFA;
*      An assessment of SPC’s responsibilities and opportunities for addressing the protection of traditional/indigenous knowledge in relation to the ITPGRFA;
*      Consultations in three ITPGRFA Contracting Parties(including Fiji) through in-country visits to explore their understanding, application of and concerns around Article 9 of the ITPGRFA;
*      Consultations with key stakeholders at the regional and international level to identify areas for partnership and collaboration to advance the protection of traditional/indigenous knowledge relevant to PGRFA and enhance farmers’ rights in accordance with Article 9 of the ITPGRFA.

The consultancy services are to be provided over 25 working days to complete the first draft of the report to SPC for comments and feedback.  Five days will be allocated to the desk review, fifteen days to the field visits and five days to complete the report. SPC will review the drafts; recommend adjustments and other inputs for a second draft.  The consultancy should take place in July-August 2010.

Expressions of interest should contain the following information:
*      Details of the consultant including curriculum vitae, referees, past experience in this area of work and demonstrated ability to meet deadlines
*      A listing of previous similar assignments with fees received
*      Availability
*      Description of suggested methodology
*      Work plan with suggested timeline

For detailed Terms of reference, please contact Sushil Narayan at sushiln@spc.int <mailto:sushiln@spc.int>  or phone 3370733 ext, 226

Expressions of Interest should be sent to: Attention: Mrs Sushil Narayan, SPC, Private, Mailbag Suva Fiji,  Phone 3370733 ext 226,  Or on sushiln@spc.int

Application close on 15 July 2010

Qualified and experienced women and Pacific Islanders are encouraged to apply.

SPC: http://www.spc.int/

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); comment on meetings that concluded this month

A few days ago the meeting on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montreal was concluded.  First, the sixth meeting of the Ad-hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (Article 8(j) WG 6) of the CBD was held (from 2 to 6 November), and then the eighth meeting on Access Sharing (9-15 November).  You can see a summary of the highlights along with related documents here http://www.iisd.ca/biodiv/wg8j-6/ and here http://www.iisd.ca/biodiv/abs8/

Dr Claudio Chiarolla, expert, UNEP ABS Knowledge Hub of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), made the following comments:

“the discussions on traditional knowledge (Article 8j) developed reasonably well. It seemed however that too much caution was taken in relation to the mechanisms to incorporate the text of new submissions into the draft of the international ABS regime; the result was that ‘real’ negotiations on this document did not even start.”

I agree that this is a shame as a Protocol, once incorporated into national laws, could change radically the way that research and innovation are carried out, as well as turning a very convoluted document like the CBD into something more concrete and manageable. On a positive conclusive note though Dr Chiarolla adds:

“it was encouraging however to see how many countries were discussing openly and frankly the issue of Prior Informed Consent (PIC) of indigenous and local communities”.

Is WIPO’s alleged push towards traditional knowledge really working?

Post written by Francesca Re Manning, 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.

Sarawak Biodiversity Centre, TK and IP Management: a trip report

An elderly medicine man from the Bidayuh community at Semadang Village explaining to the staff and family members of Bioversity-APO about the various uses of medicinal plants conserved at the village garden.

photo by G.H.Teh

 The weekend before last was special.  The Bioversity-APO office, where I’m hosted, organised a trip for their staff and family members to Kuching.  This beautiful city is located in Sarawak, the biggest state in Malaysia which probably has the richest biodiversity in the country.  When we arrived on Friday morning, we were transported to the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) (http://www.sbc.org.my/) for a visit and tour of their facility. SBC has been involved in various projects on traditional knowledge (TK) documentation with indigenous communities for about 10 years now (click here for more information – publication sharefair2009 PN).  During this time, they have managed to collect and document TK and information of various medicinal plants, and to subsequently conduct research to “discover chemicals and enzymes…that would be useful over a broad range of applications as industrial related products such as essential oils, bio-pesticides and commercial dyes” (see: SBC’s Bioprospecting Programme -).

GHT delivering her talk

photo by Chan Yunn Horng

As part of the visit, I presented a talk on IP management (see – SBC Presentation by GHTeh), by sharing experiences in the CGIAR system on various issues. 



From conversations with the Chief Executive Officer of SBC, Dr Rita Manurung, I have been apprised of the following IP challenges faced by the institution:

a)       Formation of an IP policy for SBC and the state of Sarawak;

b)       Development of in-house IP capacity to assist with IP management and implementation;

c)       Providing access to genetic resources and associated TK in a way that respects and takes into account the contribution of indigenous communities in Sarawak; and

d)       Developing benefit-sharing mechanisms for use of genetic resources and associated TK by third parties.

 Although my visit was very brief, the impression I got about SBC was very encouraging.  They have been pioneers in Malaysia for TK documentation and it is highly likely that this state institution is well on its way to strategise on taking their TK inventory and discoveries to the next level.  “We cannot stop the progress of science and technology”, says Dr Manurung.  To this, I can only say that IP must be an enabling tool for us to share with the world the wonders of biodiversity and the many promises that it can potentially bring for mankind.

Post written by Guat Hong Teh, legal specialist for CAS-IP.

TK and Folklore in South African IP law bill; critical analysis shouldn’t lead to abandonment

Thanks to Irina Curca from CAS-IP who sent the above link and the following comment:

“A new wave of debate just hit the historically “tough” iceberg of the Traditional Knowledge and Folklore. The Amendment to the South African Intellectual Property Law Bill is now being severely criticized as “abomination that deserves to be thrown on the legal scrapheap”, and is being accused (by a legal expert from Owen Dean of Spoor & Fisher) of being a legal non-sense.

It seems that some of the critiques Owen Dean of Spoor & Fisher can be recognized as valid, since an attentive analysis of the Bill reveals several grey areas which needs further legal refinement. To mention just a few, the terms “indigenous origin” and ” traditional culture” are not defined. Also, the traditional intellectual property assets  (TIP) are supposed (by the Bill) to be managed by an ad hoc institution (a national trust fund), but the rules of the representation of the community within the fund are not defined by the legislator

However, in our view, these shortfalls should not be used, neither manipulated to invalidate the Bill! The recent amendment, in fact, brings with it a huge improvement as it finally allows the communities to protect their inventions, IPRs and to commercialize and license their inventions. This is a huge step forward, as opposed to the original Bill which was supposed to protect the IPRs of the individuals only.”

For further comments check the link below: http://afro-ip.blogspot.com/2009/08/traditional-knowldege-aladdins-lessons.html

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.

Strategies for brand protection in Africa. Trademarks, Service Marks and Domain Names.

The latest issue of the World Trademark Review  was entitled “African strategies and developments” – see the lead link for Afro-IP’s blog  posting.  They say:

“The article picks up significant issues in some nine African states, together with ARIPO. … the registration of service marks is not something you can take for granted, since there are still plenty of jurisdictions where such registration is not available.”

Additionally, the article picks up important points regarding domain names registration, cyber-squatting and subsequent enforcement issues in Africa – using several examples.  There is also mention of a new initiative in South Africa to grant extended protection to traditional knowledge.

TK and ABS – the case of “Aarogyapacha” in India


This item was listed on this week’s Managing Intellectual Property midweek news round up. Thanks to Irina Curca for this blog post!

Access and Benefit sharing (ABS) is a  fundamental concept for those involved in the protection of the traditional knowledge (TK).  One of the main legislative  documents  in the TK field is the Biological Diversity Act 2002  which wants to

“achieve the objective of equity in sharing benefits from such use of resources. Its key provisions include measures for sharing of benefits from the use of biodiversity, including transfer of technology, monetary returns, joint Research & Development, joint IPR ownership, etc.; provisions for local communities to have a say in the use of their resources and knowledge, and to charge fees for this and protection of indigenous or traditional knowledge, through appropriate laws or other measures such as registration of such knowledge.” 

Even though the Biological Diversity Act addresses a number of fundamental TK issues, more needs to be done, as sometimes apparently good projects seem not to come to a happy end.