India's Traditional Medicinal Herbs, Yoga Postures Deemed 'Public Property', Cannot Be Patented
Traditional remedies, such as these neem twigs (used to clean the teeth and prevent gum problems), have been the subject of patent battles in the past. Photo: Meena Kadri via flickr
India has taken a bold move to prevent multinational corporations from 'bioprospecting' (sometimes pejoratively known as 'biopiracy') and patenting traditional medicinal herbs by declaring that about 200,000 traditional treatments are 'public property'. Yoga asanas are also covered in the action: The action comes after Delhi-based scientists noticed that globally some 5,000 traditional medicinal plants had already been patented, and more than 2,000 of them belong to Indian medicinal systems such as Ayurveda.
Past Battles to Challenge Patents Have Been Long, ExpensiveIn the past, India has had to go to court to lift patents on traditional medicinal plants. The legal battle to revoke the patents on neem and turmeric took 10 years and millions of dollars in expenses.
Yoga Postures Cannot Be 'Appropriated by Anyone'In regards to patents of yoga, Dr Vinod Kumar Gupta of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library had this to say:
We want no one to appropriate the yoga brand for themselves. There are 1,500 asanas [yogic poses] and exercises given in our ancient texts. We are transcribing these so they too cannot be appropriated by anyone.
We have had instances where people have patented a yoga technique by describing a certain temperature. This is simply wrong.
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