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About TKDL

Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is a pioneering initiative of India to protect Indian traditional medicinal knowledge and prevent its misappropriation at International Patent Offices. Traditional Knowledge (TK) is a valuable yet vulnerable asset to indigenous and local communities who depend on TK for their livelihood. The healthcare needs of more than 70% population and livelihood of millions of people in India is dependent on traditional medicine. Globally too there has been renewed attention and interest in the use of traditional medicine increasing its vulnerability to exploitation. The grant of a US patent to wound healing properties of turmeric flags the danger of complacence in proactively guarding the traditional knowledge. The time, effort and money spent on revocation of turmeric patent at USPTO highlighted the need for putting in place a proactive mechanism for TK protection. The problem related to Indian TK is further compounded by the fact that India’s traditional medicinal knowledge exists in languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, Urdu, Tamil etc. that too in ancient local dialects that are no more in practice. Thus, the published Indian TK literature is neither accessible nor understood by patent examiners at international patent offices.

Traditional Knowledge Digital Library has overcome the language and format barrier by systematically and scientifically converting and structuring the available contents of the ancient texts on Indian Systems of Medicines i.e. Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Sowa Rigpa as well as Yoga, into five international languages, namely, English, Japanese, French, German and Spanish, with the help of information technology tools and an innovative classification system - Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification (TKRC). As on date, more than 3.6 lakh formulations/ practices have been transcribed into the TKDL database.

TKRC has structured and classified the Indian Traditional Medicine System into several thousand subgroups for Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga. TKRC enabled incorporation of about 200 sub-groups under A61K 36/00 in International Patent Classification instead of few sub-groups earlier available on medicinal plants under A61K 35/00, thus enhancing the quality of search and examination of priorart with respect to patent applications field in the area of traditional knowledge.

TKDL has also set international specifications and standards for setting up of TK databases based on TKDL specifications. This was adopted in 2003 by the Committee in fifth session of the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) of WIPO on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Expression of folklore.

TKDL technology integrates diverse disciplines and languages such as Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Yoga, Sanskrit, Arabic, Urdu, Persian, Tamil, English, Japanese, Spanish, French, German, modern science & modern medicine. Currently, TKDL is based on books of Indian Systems of Medicine, which are available in open domain and can be sourced by any individual/organization at national/international level. TKDL acts as a bridge between these books (priorart) and International patent examiners.

At present, as per the approval of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, access of TKDL is available to thirteen Patent Offices (European Patent Office, United State Patent & Trademark Office, Japan Patent Office, United Kingdom Patent Office, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, German Patent Office, Intellectual Property Australia, Indian Patent Office, Chile Patent Office, Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia, Rospatent- Intellectual Property Office of Russia, Peru Patent Office and Spanish Patent and Trademark Office), under TKDL Access (Non-disclosure) Agreement. As per the terms and conditions of the Access agreement, examiners of patent office can utilize TKDL for search and examination purposes only and cannot reveal the contents of TKDL to any third party unless it is necessary for the purpose of citation. TKDL Access Agreement is unique in nature and has in-built safeguards on Non-disclosure to protect India’s interest against any possible misuse.

In addition, pre-grant oppositions are being filed at various International Patent Offices, along with prior-art evidences from TKDL. Significant impact has already been realized. So far more than 230 patent applications have either been set aside/ withdrawn/ amended, based on the prior art evidences present in the TKDL database without any cost and in few weeks/months of time, whereas APEDA had to spend about seven crores towards legal fee only for getting few claims of Basmati rice patent revoked.

TKDL is proving to be an effective deterrent against bio-piracy and has been recognized internationally as a unique effort. TKDL has set a benchmark in TK protection around the world, particularly in TK-rich countries, by demonstrating the advantages of proactive action and the power of strong deterrence. The key here is preventing the grant of wrong patents by ensuring access to TK related prior art for patent examiners without restricting the use of traditional knowledge.

For further query on TKDL and Access Agreement (for Patent Offices), contact Head, CSIR-Traditional Knowledge Digital Library Unit (email: headtkdl@csir.res.in)






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