Indian Medicinal Plants: Patenting and Ethical Issues

Manthan D Janodia, Udupa N

There has been a gradual interest in the use of medicinal plants in developed and developing countries for the past few years. Indian Medicinal Plants are used since ages for its medicinal properties and some of these plants are used as spices as well. In recent years, the cases of biopiracy have been noted, where researchers have tried to patent known properties of Indian medicinal plants and Indian government has successfully challenged a few of these patents. Objective: The objective of this article is to provide information related to a few prominent Indian medicinal plants and patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for known uses of these plants. Method: USPTO website was accessed to identify the patents granted on Indian medicinal plants discussed in this article. Result/Conclusion: With growing interest in Indian Medicinal Plants, there are instances where patents on various uses of traditional medicinal plants were granted. We tried to analyze patents granted on various Indian medicinal plants and its uses. Further, ethical issues attached to patenting of Indian medicinal plants are discussed. Many Indian medicinal plants and its properties are described in ancient ayurvedic and vedic scriptures. Indian government took proactive step and revoked patent on turmeric granted by USPTO. Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) has been set up by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to prevent granting of patents on Indian medicinal plants.


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