SciDev.net reports that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation participants have begun to draft a regional Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TDKL): an information base of traditional medicine, foods, architecture and culture to fight patent claims from rich countries:
The planned initiative follows the success of India's own TKDL, which will be used as a model by other South Asian nations. India created its library after fighting a successful but costly legal battle in 1999 to revoke a US patent for the use of turmeric to heal wounds — a property well known in India for generations.
The Indian library contains information on 36,000 formulations used in Ayurveda — India's 5,000-year-old system of traditional medicine. The information - presented in English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese — was created in a format accessible by international patent offices to prevent the granting of inappropriate patents.
The database set international standards for registries of traditional knowledge, which were adopted by the intergovernmental committee of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2003.
South Asia possesses significant traditional knowledge that affects biotechnology, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and health care. More than 80 per cent of its 1.4 billion population have no access to modern health care services and medicine, and rely on traditional medicine, the Delhi meeting heard.
The Indian digital library of traditional knowledge has also attracted attention from other regions. Representatives from South Africa, the Commonwealth West African Education Delegation, the African Regional Industrial Property Organization and International Property Office in Singapore have discussed with India the possibility of creating similar databases.
Participating nations include Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.