13. Patently obvious

Posted: 29 June 2001

Protection of intellectual property is the lifeblood of today's new knowledge economy. But while the benefits to multinational pharmaceutical or telecommunication companies are obvious, what relevance do World Trade Organization patent regulations have for developing countries?

Patently Obvious explores the potential of protecting indigenous knowledge for grass roots inventors and innovators in the Indian state of Gujarat.

Karimbhai practises herbal medicine from his home. Ten years ago he lived in a tiny hut, charged nothing for treating patients and, as his sons had no interest in learning his skills, his knowledge looked likely to die with him. Today, people travel from miles away to receive his treatments, and Karimbhai even has a patent application out for one of his medicines. His change of fortune took place after he joined the Honeybee Network, co-ordinated by Professor Anil Gupta with the aim of protecting and strengthening rural innovators and traditional knowledge keepers by documenting their work and protecting its patents.

This film forms part of TVE's Life Series ll on City Life. For a copy of this 30-minute film, contact:

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