A recent conference held in Delhi, India, brought together representatives from all over the world looking to explore the role intellectual property law can play in protecting traditional knowledge.
The event, called the International Conference on the Utilization of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library as a Model for Protection of Traditional Knowledge, was organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization in conjunction with India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.
The Indian government has initiated a library, called the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, designed to protect traditional knowledge from misappropriation. Traditional knowledge includes information recorded in ancient languages, such as Sanskrit. The library works to prevent people from patenting "inventions" that simply replicate information recorded prior to the advent of modern patent law.
Speakers at the conference spoke of the possibility of implementing similar projects in other countries.
Pawan Kumar Bansai, India's minister of science and technology, told attendees at the conference that the TKDL had been successful in preventing misappropriation of Indian traditional knowledge. The library, he said, has been "an immensely effective tool for the protection of traditional knowledge."
Bansai went on to offer the Indian government's support to WIPO and foreign governments interested in emulating his country's efforts to protect traditional knowledge.
According to WIPO director general Francis Gurry, the TKDL approach complements work currently underway in WIPO to create an international legal instrument designed to ensure protection of traditional cultural expressions and knowledge.