India has cited ancient texts in foiling an attempt by US-based consumer goods giant Colgate-Palmolive to patent a mouthwash formula containing herb extracts. The texts cited show that the ingredients were traditionally used in ancient medicinal practices.
The company had filed the patent at the European patent office (EPO) for “oral compositions containing extracts of ‘Myristica fragrans’ and related methods”. The application was, however, deemed to be withdrawn in June after India’s premier research body, the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), raised objections.
“The Innovation Protection Unit (IPU) of the CSIR had raised the objection and submitted proof in the form of references from ancient books, which said the herb and its extracts were used for oral diseases in Indian systems of medicine”, said Anjana Baruah, head of the unit.
She told TOI that the IPU detected the claim of the consumer goods giant at the website of the EPO and immediately objected to it by citing references that are there in the ‘Traditional Knowledge Digital Library’ (TKDL) of CSIR.
The IPU constantly looks for such claims by searching applications filed at different patent offices across the world. If it finds any evidence of bio-piracy against such claims, it immediately raises objections and submits proof.
In the Colgate-Palmolive case, it cited existence of the particular herb extracts in the TKDL database. It informed the EPO about references of the extracts in ‘Charaka Samhita’ – the ancient text of the traditional medicinal practices. It also cited how the extracts are used in different traditional medicines like ‘Raughan’, ‘Dantaprabha Churna Manjan’ and ‘Sahakaravati’.
India has, so far, identified 1,155 patent applications at different international patent offices with respect to Indian systems of medicine and raised objections in more than 1,120 cases till August last year.
Success has, however, been achieved in 206 cases where the patent applications have either been withdrawn/cancelled/declared dead/terminated or have the claims amended by applicants or rejected by the examiners on the basis of the TKDL submissions. This number may increase as proofs are being examined in many cases.
The IPU not only counter claims of patents filed by scientists\companies\institutions in India and abroad but also files patent application for the inventions on behalf of all research labs of the CSIR. The unit also looks after the protection of intellectual property rights at national and international level for the results of important R&D carried out in the various CSIR laboratories.
In cases of traditional system of medicines or possible instances of bio-piracy, the IPU takes help of the TKDL for verification and submitting evidences.
The TKDL technology integrates diverse disciplines like ayurveda, unani, siddha and yoga. It is based on 359 books of Indian systems of medicine. It acts as a bridge between these books and international patent examiners.