India takes up Neem, Yoga patent issue at WTO, demands global check

Published On: 14, Dec 2017 | Source: business-standard.com

Furthering its fight against granting of patents to yoga and products made from genetic resources such as neem and tulsi, India on Tuesday circulated a new proposal in this regard at the (WTO) ministerial meeting.

As per the proposal, an entity or individual applicant of any patent will have to provide details of any existing traditional knowledge that exists on the product that the entity or individual is seeking to patent. 

"We have suggested a work programme on this as 106 countries had agreed to this earlier," a government official told Times of India.

In recent years, India and several other countries have argued for checks in patenting of traditional knowledge and genetic resources,  but failed to make any progress due to stiff opposition from the US, Australia and Japan.

The issue is also under discussion at the (WIPO). 

India took up the matter both bilaterally and at International platforms, after several instances of patents on products such as neem and haldi forced the government to fight expensive legal battles.

There have also been instances of patent on Yoga asanas.

In a bid to prevent such patents, the Indian government started the (TKDL) in 2001. According to the Library's website, about 200 patent applications of " pharmaceutical companies of US, Great Britain, Spain, Italy, China etc. have either been set aside/ withdrawn/ amended, based on the prior art evidences present in the database without any cost and in few weeks/months of time... Similar outcome is expected in about 1200 more cases, where has filed pre-grant opposition."