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July 11, 2000
India hopes to revoke patent on basmati rice
India is expecting to revoke a patent on basmati rice 'grains and lines' granted to an American firm by the US Patent Office, according to R A Mashelkar, director general, Council of Industrial and Scientific Research.
"We have filed a re-examination request one-and-a-half months ago for the US Patent No 5,663,484, which currently grants the patent for all grains and lines of basmati rice to the American firm," Mashelkar told PTI in an interview.
CSIR had earlier won a patent war on the aromatic qualities of basmati rice on the grounds that it was not an innovation but part of traditional Indian knowledge.
"This re-examination request goes a step further to stop the firm from patenting the grains and all lines of basmati rice, traditionally grown in many parts of India," he said.
Mashelkar said the request had been made after months of extensive scrutiny and study from traditional and modern literature on the rice lines.
"It took us a long time to compile all known rice lines in the country and present them in a convincing form," he said, adding that there was a need to create a 'traditional knowledge digital library' to stop 'black patents' in developed countries from pirating traditional know-how of the developing world.
India is heading a group of developing nations to compile the world's first traditional knowledge digital library, to be operational within an year. The unique library on traditional medicinal plants and systems, will increase its canvas beyond traditional medicine and include innovations based on traditional knowledge.
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