Friday, July 28, 2006

"Traditional foreign wisdom" to be invoked in mangosteen case

Thailand will submit information on mangosteen to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to try to stop an American food company from taking out patents based on the popular fruit. US-based Nature's Sunshine Products, a producer of herbal and food supplements, applied for patents for drinks made from mangosteen extracts on Oct 27, 2004. According to Kanissorn Navanugraha, the director-general of the Intellectual Property Department, extracting mangosteen for beverages was part of Thai traditional wisdom. "I will submit to the US authorities that Thais have been using traditional knowledge to derive extracts from mangosteen for a long time," he said.

This reminds one of the controversies surrounding the neem plant. One also thinks of the use of a book by "beat generation" poet Ginsburg as prior art in a certain plant patent case.


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