Traditional Knowledge

Traditional Knowledge


Traditional knowledge is information that is transmitted from generation to generation generally within the community or within families in an oral form without any adequate documentation. The object of the Traditional Knowledge Intellectual Property protection is to protect the ancient and traditional knowledge of the country from exploitation through bio-piracy and unethical patents.

In terms of Intellectual Property (IP) protection for traditional knowledge, two types of protection are being sought:

  • Defensive protection, which aims to stop people outside the community from acquiring intellectual property rights over traditional knowledge.
  • Positive protection, under which there is granting of rights that empower communities to promote their traditional knowledge, control its uses and benefit from its commercial exploitation.


In June 1999, the Planning Commission under the Central Government constituted a “Task Force on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Medicinal Plants” with objective of identification of measures to facilitate the protection of “patent rights and IPR of medicinal plants”. One among several recommendations of the Task Force, was creation of a library to ensure collation of traditional knowledge on one platform, which is available digitally and is helpful in proving to the world that traditional medicinal knowledge with India is prior art due to which, patent applications based on such knowledge will not fulfill the criteria of novelty.  

Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), is a pioneer initiative of India to prevent misappropriation of country’s traditional medicinal knowledge at international patent offices on which healthcare needs of more than 70% population and livelihood of millions of people in India is dependent.

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