Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL)

India possesses a rich traditional knowledge which is generally being passed down by word of mouth from one generation to another. Most part of this traditional knowledge is inaccessible to common since it is described in ancient classical and other literature. There is also a threat of misuse of such knowledge through obtaining patents on non-original innovations which is a great loss to the country. TKDL addresses these issues.

What is TKDL?

  • TKDL is an initiative to provide the information on traditional knowledge existing in the country, in languages and format understandable by patent examiners at International Patent Offices (IPOs), so as to prevent the grant of wrong patents.
  • TKDL is a collaborative project of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, is situated in Ghaziabad, U.P.
  • TKDL acts as a bridge between the traditional knowledge information existing in local languages and the patent examiners at IPOs.

How is it evolved?

  • TKDL uses the tools of information technology and a novel classification system to make available traditional medical knowledge in digital form.
  • Vinod Kumar Gupta, who set up TKDL, devised a modern classification based on the structure of International Patent Classification (IPC) for India’s traditional systems: Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha & Yoga.
  • The India’s traditional knowledge is found in Sanskrit, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Arabic, Persian and Urdu texts. This is inaccessible and incomprehensible to patent examiners overseas. The focus of TKDL was on breaking the language and format barriers by scientifically converting and structuring the available TK in IPC.
  • The Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification (TKRC) has resulted in a fundamental reform of IPC by enhancing the TK segment from one sub-group to 207 sub-groups, thus enabling effective search and examination process.

How does it work?

  • The knowledge obtained from ancient Indian texts is stored in 34 million A4 size pages and translated into five foreign languages – in Japanese, English, Spanish, German and French.
  • It is not a transliteration; rather it is a knowledge-based conversion, where data abstracted once is converted into several languages by using Unicode, Metadata methodology.
  • TKDL has signed access and non-disclosure agreements with the Indian and seven other global patent offices. This ensures near-foolproof security for our invaluable bioresources against piracy.
  • All of this required not just high-end technology but also skills of a high technical order. And there were people with knowledge of ancient texts, modern medicine and technical terms of foreign languages.
  • This was a tremendous exercise of global proportions and the price for this unique propriety system was Rs. 16 crore.

What are the benefits?

  • TKDL has identified 1,000 cases of biopiracy of India’s TK in the last 3 years. In 105 cases, patent claims were withdrawn or cancelled by the patent offices. This is done at no cost to India and it takes very less time. All that is required is an e-mail to the relevant patent office.
  • There is necessity to spend huge legal fees and time in fighting biopiracy. For example, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) spent 7 years and Rs 7.62 crore in legal fees to fight the intellectual property rights battle for basmati rice.
  • There has been as much as a 44% decline in patent claims filed on Indian systems of medicine.
  • Now TKDL also includes videos of the most common yoga postures. This is avoids grating wrong patents for Yoga exercise in the west which is an increasing trend.

TKDL in other countries

  • Biopiracy is prevalent not just in the case of India’s traditional knowledge. A large number of countries, rich in bioresources across the African and Latin American continents, are facing the same problem.
  • The Traditional Knowledge of nearly 110 developing countries is vulnerable to theft and capture.
  • With the help of India’s experience these countries can initiate similar programmes to protect the traditional knowledge.

The Government of Peru has recently declared its intention of setting up an institution similar to India’s TKDL.

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