The skills,practices or a knowledge about anything that are developed,
sustained, and pass on from generation to generation within a community, culture
is known as traditional knowledge. For example, we all know that mustered oil is
good for hair, but from where it comes or its origin we don't know, or any
special food items that are only found in certain parts of the country or the
proverb used by oue grandparent. India itself has 398 languages of which 387
living and 11 extinct languages.
So, there is no accepted definition of traditional knowledge at the
international level but it can be said that it is a knowledge of culture and
tradition including signs and symbols or regarding plants, and skills
innovations. It is something that has ancient roots and is shared orally. It an
old knowledge. For some knowledge, there is no justified protection. It also
shows us how things or a certain knowledge or information evolves and use.
Yoga is now known by world wide, and its here from centuries. Ayurvedic medicine
are used from centuries, even in Ramayana, lord lam used medicine to save his
brother Lakshmana. These are the some examples.
Different types of classification of TK:
- Elder,healer or shamans kept secrate their Sacred Knowledge
- Knowledge that are restricted to a certain family, clan and the holder
of the knowledge ensued proper use of knowledge usually in context of the
community from where the holder belongs.
- Communal Knowledge that are in public domain.
Every country wants to protect their country's traditional knowledge. There are
several challenges in the protection of traditional knowledge, for example, no
one knows the exact origin of that particular knowledge or there is no written
proof of that or by which law traditional knowledge may be protected or how it
can get protection for more than 20 years.
In IPR positive protection and defensive mechanismare the two methordsto protect
Positive Protection- it is available to all traditional knowledge holders with
the right to take necessary action and seek remedies against the misuse of the
knowledge base. It is the enactment of specific rules and regulations and laws,
as well as access to benefit-sharing provisions, royalty payments, etc.
Defensive mechanism- it refers to the step taken by traditional knowledge owners
to prevent the acquisition of their intellectual property rights. These
knowledge holders protect intellectual property rights that are illegitimately
acquired by third parties.
The protection of traditional knowledge came into existence to tackle the
problem of biopiracy. So then what is biopiracy?
Biopiracy describes how developed worlds claim ownership or take unfair
advantage for a free ride on the traditional resources and knowledge
An example of this is the use of indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants, and
herbs, for patenting pharmaceutical companies without understanding that the
information is neither new nor developed by the patentee.
As colgate is worlf wide, and it is patented its tooth cleaning powder. The
patent was granted in the U.S. in june on groundbreaking red herbal dentifrice.
However the indian activosts that the ingredients like clove oil, camphor, black
pepper, spearmint have been used for hundreds of years for the same purpose
the patent filing argued that the old recipe became new and not intended to pay
royalties. The matter is still panding before USPTO, however india is in process
to make a 34 million wep pages document to prevent this.
This is a leading case in traditional knowledge. India claimed that india
uses/knows about its healing property from centuries and showed some evidences.
The patent then revoked by USPTO.
International Forum To Protect Traditional Knowledge
Several international organizations, including the World Health Organisation,
the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the United Nations Commission on
Human Rights, and the Conservation of Biological Diversity, among others, are
trying to conserve traditional knowledge.
Convention On Biological Diversity
During the Rio submission, 150 government officials signed the Convention on
Biological Diversity. Its principal goal is to advance sustainable development.
Article 8(j) of the convension refers To safeguard and conservation.
Article 10(c) refers requirement for conservation and sustainable use of the
Article 15.5 refers to mentioning of prior informed consent to acces genetic
Article 17 referst to the exchange of information by the indegent to local
Article 16 refers to traditional knowledge as a key technology for effective
practices of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.
The world trade organization seeks cooperation from other countries to protect
traditional knowledge. WIPO is important to patent and trademark and the
innovation which came from the traditional knowledge and to protect it in form
of trade secrets, geographical indication or confidential information.
The above-mentioned are the some convention for the protection of traditional
Protection Of Traditional Knowledge In India
The USPTO granted so many patent but india has succeeded or withdrawal of 36
patent application which was based on medical formulas. It is due to the digital
library that was build for the protection of traditional knowledge. In 2002, a
collaborative project between CSIR and AYUSH was held. Its all started when
USPTO granted patent on turmeric's healing power the patent granted by European
patent office (EPO) on the antifungal properties of neem.
It contain 34 millions pages of prepared data about 2260000 in different
languages like Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, urdu, table, and others. It was
initially used by the patent examiner to check prior art before granting patent.
It is only one that is present in whole world.
Traditional knowledge is the one of the greatest assets and every countries
foundation. It distinquist a country and a great source of knowledge. As it is a
legacy ofa country fron the ancestors, At the international level, efforts have
been made to implement the access and benefit-sharing system, the sui generis
legal protection system, the intellectual property law protection system, and
the public domain. International bodies, however, have struggled to put in place
meaningful protection for traditional knowledge.
The system needs to be reformed because it is out of balance to protect such
ancient knowledge. Inculcating informal rules that can effectively execute the
protection of traditional knowledge is urgently needed. Consequently, there is a
critical need to safeguard traditional knowledge. Both national and
international action must be done. However, there is an urgent need for
international action because no nation is equipped to provide such security on