Monday, November 19, 2012

Clean Tech and the Science of Life

Significant aspects of clean tech are directly related to the life sciences. For example, many of the patentECO Industry Index patents issued by the USPTO Green Tech Pilot Program related to bioengineering and incorporated technologies such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), fermentation (the use of yeast to convert sugars to alcohol), or non-GMO organisms. Although most of the citations in these patents are relatively recent, it is interesting to consider a life sciences repository that covers life sciences discoveries over thousands of years – the Science of Life – and how this body of information relates to clean tech innovations now being patented. This repository is the Indian art and science of Ayurveda. Ayur and Veda literally mean Science of Life.
The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)’s Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy, part of the Indian Government, is compiling a massive database of of traditional medicines and ancient remedies that it wants to protect from being patented in other countries. The goal is to protect the collective traditional knowledge of India by making it available to patent examiners around the world in a way that is accessible and usable.
The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) contains information on Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, and Yoga. It contains over 1200 formulations including 500 representative Ayurveda formulations, 500 Unani formulations and 200 Siddha formulations, all linked to the International Patent Classification system (IPC). It includes easy to understand information on how the compounds are formulated, what the treatment is useful for and the dosage information. It also contains a list of prior art documents and publication dates.
Information in the TKDL has been successfully used as prior art to force the withdrawal of patent applications using traditional formulations. The formulations sections contain the Title of the Traditional Knowledge Resource and “Knowledge Since” information which has entries with listings citing 1000 years. Now that’s some prior art.  (Here is a list of some of the patent applications challenged using the information in the TKDL.)
For those of you who are classification junkies the TKDL has identified approximately 200 subgroups on medicinal plants where they recommend the TKDL be linked to aid patent examiners in looking for prior art that relates to India’s traditional knowledge. The list is available here.
Among their more recent achievements is documenting over 900 yoga poses to block entrepreneurs from obtaining yoga-related patents. Yoga has been around for over 6,000 years embodying both a physical and spiritual practice. Yoga has grown into a $250 billion industry internationally.
This is an awesome resource for researchers, representing the intersection of digital life sciences and the digital science of life. Have any of our readers used this resource in the development of their inventions?