• The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is a prior art database of Indian traditional knowledge established in 2001, jointly by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Department of Indian Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy (ISM&H, now Ministry of AYUSH).
  • The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is an Indian digital knowledge repository of the traditional knowledge, especially about medicinal plants and formulations used in Indian systems of medicine.
  • The library’s goal is to safeguard the country’s historic and traditional knowledge from exploitation through biopiracy and illegitimate patents by digitising it and classifying it according to worldwide patent classification methods.
  • Many formulas have been chosen from several classical sources of Indian Systems of Medicine such as Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, and Sowa Rigpa in the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library’s (TKDL’s) comprehensive database. The selected formulas include plant, animal, and mineral derived components to treat a range of illness problems, as described in classic Indian literature of various medical systems.
  • The information is documented in a digitized format in five international languages which are English, German, French, Japanese and Spanish.
  • TKDL provides information in languages and format understandable by patent examiners at Patent Offices worldwide, so as to prevent the erroneous grant of patents.
  • It had digitised more than 148 public domains’ works on Sowa Rigpa, Siddha, Unani, Ayurveda, and Yoga into more than 34 million pages of documentation, which had been translated into five languages i.e. Spanish, French, German, Japanese, and English.
  • The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library already includes data on 1,000,000 Unani formulations, 12,000 Siddha formulations, and 80,000 Ayurvedic formulations.
  • It has also signed pacts with leading international patent offices namely the United Kingdom Trademark & Patent Office (UKPTO), United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and the European Patent Office (EPO), to protect traditional knowledge from biopiracy by allowing patent examiners at international patent offices to search and examine patents in the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library database.
  • In 2006, as the database project came to a close, the government granted overseas patent offices, including the European Patent Office (EPO), Japan, and the United Kingdom, access to the library, subject to a non-disclosure agreement.
    • In February 2009, an agreement with the European Patent Office (EPO) was signed.
    • TKDL and the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) have reached an agreement on its access in the year of 2009.
    • In January 2010, agreement was struck with the United Kingdom Trademark & Patent Office (UKPTO).
    • After the summit meeting between the then US President Barack Obama and the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in January 2010, a deal was concluded with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
    • TKDL and the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) have reached an agreement on its access in the year of 2010.
    • TKDL and the Intellectual Property Australia (IP Australia) have reached an agreement on its access in the year of 2011.
    • TKDL and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) have reached an agreement on its access in the year of 2011.
    • TKDL and the Chile Patent Office (INAPI) have reached an agreement on its access in the year of 2014.
    • TKDL and the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) have reached an agreement on its access in the year of 2015.
    • TKDL and Rospatent (Russia) have reached an agreement on its access in the year of 2011.
    • TKDL and the INDECOPI (Peru) have reached an agreement on its access in the year of 2017.
    • TKDL and the  Spanish Patent and Trademark Office have reached an agreement on its access in the year of 2019.
  • The administrative responsibility of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library was transferred to the newly formed Union Ministry of AYUSH in the year of 2014.
  • In the year of 2008, another initiative began to collect data on 1,500 yoga positions.
    • To register each native pose, a team of yoga gurus from nine schools collaborated with public officials and 200 experts from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to scan 35 ancient texts, including the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, as well as the Hindu epics Mahabharata and Bhagwad Gita.
    • 1500 asanas were supposed to be introduced by the end of 2009.
  • Under India’s National Biodiversity Act of 2002, the government is creating a People’s Register of Biodiversity to record and conserve traditional knowledge passed on to the future through oral traditions.

Objectives of TKDL

  • It aims to prevent patents from being granted for things built using traditional knowledge having miniscule, if any, novel breakthroughs.
  • Its goal is to serve as a link between ancient Sanskrit records and patent examiners, with a database that contains information in a language and manner that patent examiners can comprehend.
  • It also makes information not readily available to patent examiners more accessible, reducing the likelihood of patents being issued for “inventions” containing just slight or trivial changes.

Recent Developments

  • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Union Ministry of AYUSH are celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the project.
  • Recently, the Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the “Widening access of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) database to users, besides patent offices.

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