Remember the outrage that ensued when some company attempted to patent turmeric as a cure for wound healin? That patent was challenged a few years later by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in India, ultimately leading to its overturning. It was a patently ridiculous claim to have discovered something known for thousands of years. Such cases of biopiracy still pop up every now and then.
For instance, this attempt to patent the healing properties of watermelon juice.
But now, there is a new remedy to these attempts. The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library is an attempt to codify all the knowledge of the centuries, providing a reference point against which to decide the novelty of such patents.
Next time you want to know what herb can be used to treat your tummy-ache, you have a traditional knowledge database from which to take your pick of nostrums.