India has thwarted an attempt by consumer goods giant Colgate-Palmolive to patent a mouthwash formula containing extracts of nutmeg by citing ancient texts that show it was traditionally used in ancient medicinal practices.
Colgate had filed the patent at the European Patent Office (EPO) for "oral compositions containing extracts of 'Myristica fragrans' and related methods".
The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR-TKDL) submitted proof in the form of references from ancient books, which said the herb and its extracts of `Myristica Fragrans' were used for oral diseases in Indian systems of medicine.
In addition, other third-party observations also made submissions against the claims.
Besides citing existence of the particular herb extracts in the TKDL database and references of the extracts in 'Charaka Samhita', the ancient text of the traditional medicinal practices, the council also cited how the extracts are used in different traditional medicines like 'Raughan', 'Dantaprabha Churna Manjan' and 'Sahakaravati'.
Colgate's application was, however, deemed to be withdrawn in June after India's premier research body raised objections.
"The Innovation Protection Unit (IPU) of the CSIR had raised the objection and submitted proof in the form of references from ancient books, which said the herb and its extracts were used for oral diseases in Indian systems of medicine", reports quoted Anjana Baruah, head of the unit, as saying.
The IPU regularly monitors applications filed at different patent offices across the world to look for any evidence of bio-piracy.
It has so far identified 1,155 patent applications at different international patent offices with respect to Indian systems of medicine and raised objections in more than 1,120 cases till August last year.
It has also succeeded in 206 cases where the patent applications have either been withdrawn/cancelled/declared dead/terminated or have the claims amended by applicants or rejected by the examiners.
Meanwhile, various institutions of CSIR filed applications, including 14 in India and 22 abroad. One patent was granted in India while 14 were granted abroad.