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Life | Patently Obvious

Protection of intellectual property is the lifeblood of today’s new knowledge economy. But while the benefits to the multinational pharmaceutical or telecommunication giants are plain, what relevance do World Trade Organization patent regulations have for developing countries? Patently Obvious explores the benefits of intellectual property protection 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. By contrast Karimbhai today makes a good living – with people travelling for miles for treatment and advice. He even has a patent application out for one of his medicines. His change of fortune came about 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.

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