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About the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library

(Information courtesy of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research)

The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) project, initiated in India in 2001, is a collaboration between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, of India.  It is being implemented at the CSIR.   The inter-disciplinary team involved in the creation of the TKDL for Indian Systems of Medicine included traditional medicine experts (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga), patent examiners, IT experts, scientists and technical officers.


The TKDL contains documentation of publicly available traditional knowledge (TK) that:

  • relates to Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga
  • is in digitized format
  • is available in five languages: English, German, French, Japanese and Spanish.

The TKDL, which contains over 34 million pages:

  • provides information on TK existing in India, in languages and a format understandable by patent examiners at international patent offices
  • contains information for patent examiners on prior art that would otherwise be available only in Sanskrit and other local languages in Indian libraries
  • lists the precise time, place and medium of publication for prior art searches by patent examiners
  • aims to prevent the granting of erroneous patents.



  • seeks to prevent the granting of patents for products developed utilizing TK where there has been little, if any, inventive step
  • intends to act as a bridge between information recorded in ancient Sanskrit and patent examiners (with its database containing information in a language and format understandable to patent examiners)
  • facilitates access to information not easily available to patent examiners, thereby minimizing the possibility that patents could be granted for “inventions” involving only minor or insignificant modifications.

IP Office collaboration

Certain patents offices have been granted access to the TKDL for carrying out prior art searches and patent examination:

  • European Patent Office (February 2009)
  • Indian Patent Office (July 2009)
  • German Patent Office (October 2009)
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (November 2009)
  • United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (February 2010)
  • Canadian Intellectual Property Office (September 2010)
  • IP Australia (January 2011)

Since gaining access in February 2009, the EPO has identified 36 patents that make use of Indian TK.  In some cases, the EPO has set aside its intention to grant the patent, while in others applicants have withdrawn their application. (Examples of EPO applications set aside, modified or withdrawn based on TKDL evidence.)  Similar results are expected by the CSIR for the rest of these cases.  According to the CSIR, this could help prevent legally complex and expensive opposition processes.