The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cow urine is patent-proof

New Delhi, Feb. 21: Raghuvansh Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal today put the Lok Sabha in a flap with a demand that the government patent cow’s urine before anyone else gets to it.

“Sorry sir, urine of cow, the Vedas, ayurveda, gayatri mantra, neem, basmati rice and curry cannot be patented since they do not meet the basic requirement for a product to be patented,” said Union minister of state for commerce Rajeev Pratap Rudy in response to Prasad’s supplementary question.

Rudy explained to the RJD member and the Congress’ Renuka Chowdhury that none of the products they had listed jointly in their written question could be patented.

They had also asked whether there was a competition among foreign countries to patent the country’s “heritage items” like herbs, reflecting concern over increasing attempts to patent traditional Indian items like neem, turmeric and basmati rice.

Replying to the supplementary on the question of patenting of products, Rudy said: “Patents are only guaranteed to a process or a product which meets the criteria of patentability. It should be novel, should have elements of invention and industrial applicability or use.”

In his written reply, Rudy said intellectual property rights, including patents, are given under the sovereign prerogative of countries according to their patent laws and have territorial effect only. But the Vedas, ayurveda, gayatri mantra are prima facie not patentable under patent laws.

International patent laws allow registrations under the rubric of geographical appellations. So Scotch whisky, champagne and Bordeaux wine are exclusive products of the countries of their origin. But that argument probably doesn’t extend to cow’s urine or the gayatri mantra.

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