Saturday, February 25, 2006

Wealth of Traditional Knowledge System

feb 25th

theft of intellectual property is an age-old white-guy/christist practce.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: V. Ravi <>
Date: Feb 21, 2006 6:34 PM
Subject: Wealth of Traditional Knowledge System
To: Ravi V <>

In 2004, US patent office granted a patent on a
sequence of 26 asanas to an Indian-American yoga
practitioner. You might wonder or express disbelief.
How could anyone claim ownership over a 5,000-year-old
tradition? But, unfortunately that is the state of
affairs in the world today.

Actually this is not a single such case. For example,
80% of 5,000 patents on plant-based formulations
granted by the US in 2000 were of Indian origin.



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daisies said...

hmmm...this was a different case
altogether...i think...

i think this was bikram yoga. i
thought it had 14 postures. or
maybe my memory is wrong.

what was patented was only the
sequence of asanas. not the
asanas themselves.

his argument was that, if you can
patent a sequence of notes, you
can patent a sequence of asanas.

so we can rest easy, nothing
has been stolen. he just protected
his business from theft by copying.

bikram yoga incidentally is yoga
done in steam rooms, which induces
sweat and has numerous health
benefits such as weight loss,
increase in bmr as well as general
removal of toxins through sweat.
usually people who cant do heavy
exercise go for it.

it is good stuff.

but actually, he should have
obtained a patent for sequence of
asanas in heated setting. otherwise
it somewhat amounts to patenting
yoga itself.

averageindian said...

Never fear. Offer the knowledge for free in India, and invite the foreigners to the mathrubhumi for exotic cultural tourism trips (where these can be packaged), to learn and benefit from these age old traditions. Soon the West will realize that learning these traditions are more authentic at the source and possibly cheaper, than from these "patent" holders. The benefit to India is foreign exchange and spreading the cultural awareness amongst the less informed westerners (apart from Indians themselves learning, once they see the white folks learn in India).

sundar said...

Hhmmm... Even now the IP laws have not reached many business houses in India. Those who have been holding their hundred years old trade name, have not even thought of opting for a patent. It is not too far when most of the names have to be given up to the new age entrepreneurs just because they have got the name registered with the patent office.

siva said...

Talking about predatory white man stealing others ideas and property, I read in Feb 13th edition of Time (US version) magazine a book review. The title of the book was Curry written by one Lizzie Collingham.

In that book she says that Chili peppers and vindaloo actually came from the “New World” Europe, Portugal to be precise, only after 1500. She also says that the Portuguese name for vindaloo was vinho e alhos. When I read this my first reaction was, what the fuck? When did this happen? Can anybody throw some light on this stupid history of vindaloo and its origin?

With this trend and the already twisted stupid version of Yoga offered in the US as Christian Yoga and Jewish Yoga, it won’t be long before they say Yoga and Meditation was brought to India by that mysterious ghost Thomas.

daisies said...

Hi Sundar,

I liked the point on trade names
and old business houses in India
not being protected by IP laws.

However, what gets patented is not
the name of the business, but
the technique. This guy Bikram's
steamed room technique is his own
bright idea, and the way they do
yoga is more of a fitness thing
than a true yoga form.

What bothers me about patenting a
sequence is that it can eventually
lead to theft, with more people
doing the same. After all a typical
yoga routine starts with some
breathing/warm-ups and followed by
upper-body, middle-body, lower-body
and so on. I am starting to think
that patenting asana sequences
should not be allowed at all.

More than that, who has given the
US the divine right, in this whole
world, to give patents for anything
they please ? - This is what
should be challenged by our
country, and others affected.

Feng-shui, Vaastu are all fast
becoming household words in the US.
There are a quite a few Americans
highly trained in Vaastu, who now
offer consultancy and teaching.

India should claim ownership. I am
not talking of IP laws, fighting
separately every patent that gets
filed and such things. It should
be addressed more fundamentally.
India should declare and claim what
is of Indian origin and control
what may be done with these things
by anyone.

I think the govt. should have a
body exclusively for this - for
protecting traditional knowledge
and heritage.