The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library — initially available on DVD — will record details of up to 4,500 medicinal plants in an easily searchable database to allow those applying for patents to check whether their 'invention' is actually unpatentable 'prior art'.
The move is an attempt to stem the tide of foreign patent applications on traditional Indian products such as basmati rice, turmeric and neem.
A group from the Indian health ministry's Department of Indian Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy is compiling the library, which is currently about one-third complete. It will be available on the Internet later this year.
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