Defensive publishing

The BBC reports that India has embarked on a massive defensive publishing project. They are building the ‘Traditional Knowledge Digital Library’, a 30 million page (!) encyclopedia describing traditional medicine, and will release it into the public domain.


They want to stop the (mostly) Western parasites that are patenting certain qualities of plants, many of which originate from India. It’s a classic defensive publishing move. The cost? $2 million. Peanuts.

This is awesome. Yay India!! But we need to deal with the root of the problem – we need serious patent reform. Why the hell is patenting (properties of) plants allowed?

Ah, of course, plants and their properties are obviously inventions by humans. And the fact that say, turmeric, has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years (in India, for instance), means that the wound-healing properties of turmeric are clearly novel. And, for that matter, non-obvious. Of course the properties of turmeric should be patentable!

Well, at least that particular patent was overturned. But at what cost! Millions of dollars in legal fees, and years in court – the patent system is sick.

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