Tuesday 5 April 2011

Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) Of India And WIPO

Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) of India has invoked the interest of international community, especially World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). WIPO is looking forward to collaborate with the Government of India to make available the Government’s experience, expertise and technology in establishing the TKDL to other countries that wish, of their own accord, to create their own TKDLs and would assist beneficiary countries, should they so wish, to conclude access and non-disclosure agreements with international patent offices. However, establishing TKDLs raises a number of policies, legal, practical and a number of technological challenges.

The TKDL is an effort to provide patent offices with resources to understand India’s traditional knowledge. Indeed, having as much information as possible at one’s fingertips is essential to drafting, examining, and understanding patent applications/patents. The information in the Library is intended to act as a “bridge” between the ancient Sanskrit information, and patent examiners at international offices—a bold goal. So far, EPO, Indian, German, UK, US, Canadian, and Australian examiners have access to the information stored in the library. The intention is to allow these examiners to better understand the historical knowledge and to prevent complex and expensive opposition procedures.

The Indian TKDL project, developed over a ten year period, documented knowledge about traditional medical treatments and the curative properties of plants, which was contained in ancient texts and languages, and classified the information in a searchable database. The TKDL now contains 34 million pages in five international languages. By making this information available, via Access and Non-Disclosure Agreements, to six major international patent offices, the TKDL, coupled with India’s global bio-piracy watch system, has, according to the CSIR, achieved dramatic success in preventing the grant of erroneous patents, at minimal direct cost and in a matter of a few weeks.

WIPO has claimed that India’s TKDL could be a good model for others and that WIPO was ready to facilitate international collaboration for countries which, inspired by the Indian example, were interested in establishing their own TKDLs.

Misappropriation of traditional knowledge and bio-piracy of genetic resources are the issues of great concern for all the developing countries. These issues are being pursued at several multilateral forums, such as Convention on Biological Diversity, TRIPs Council, World Trade Organisation and World Intellectual Property Organisation. However, so far a ‘global framework’ for traditional knowledge protection system has not been established. It is mainly for this reason that Mexico had to fight a legal battle for 10 years to get the patent on Enola bean at the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) cancelled in July 2009. Similarly, the cancellation of Monsanto Soybean patent in July 2007 at the European Patent Office (EPO) took 13 years of legal battle.