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India thwarts US company bid to patent pomegranate

Vanita Srivastava, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 23, 2012
First Published: 23:31 IST(23/12/2012) | Last Updated: 23:33 IST(23/12/2012)

India has foiled an attempt made by a US company to claim a patent at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on the use of pomegranate for the treatment of ulcers.


MDIP LLC had filed a patent publication number 20100291249 with title 'Pomegranate derived products for the treatment of skin sores and lesions' in July 2010 claiming the usefulness of pomegranate (punica granatum) for the treatment of ulcer, wound, acne vulgaris and as an antiseptic.

The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), a unit of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research submitted prior art evidences in December 2010 in the form of  references in three books from   11th century to 20th century.

"We submitted  evidences which clearly state that pomegranate has been used alone or in combination with a few other ingredients for the treatment of ulcer, wound, acne vulgaris and as an antiseptic in the Indian system of medicine," TKDL director V K Gupta told HT.

The books that were referred to as evidence were Muheet-e-Aza, written by Mohammad Azam Khan in the 19th century, Al-Qaanoon-fil-Tibb written by Abu Ali Ibn-e-Sina in the 11th century and Quraabaadeen Najm-al-Ghani authored by Mohammad Najmul Ghani Khan in the 20th century.

A letter written by the TKDL director addressed to USPTO said: "Since sufficient printed prior arts are available in the Indian system of medicine like Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha in relation with the claims made by the applicant, we are filing the third party submission for the same."

The applicant decided to amend the claims on August 14, 2012, but the examiner later rejected all the claims.

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