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Si può brevettare la saggezza? (segue testo originale)

 

 

 

   

By Suketu Mehta
Published: May 7, 2007

Nuova Delhi - L'India ha istituito una task force per proteggere lo Yoga dai brevetti. Secondo lo U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, sull'insieme delle tecniche che dovrebbero "consentire il congiungimento del corpo, della mente e dell'anima con Dio" gravano negli USA già la bellezza di circa 150 rivendicazioni di copyright, 134 brevetti di accessori e 2315 marchi. Insomma, un'ombra lunga di proprietà intellettuali che Suketu Mehta, autore di "Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found", considera senza senso.

Il suo recente editoriale pubblicato dall'Herald Tribune, ironizza proprio sul fatto che il popolo indiano non si sia mai reso conto di stare seduto su un tesoro che ogni anno genera negli Stati Uniti 3 miliardi di dollari. "È incredibile per la maggior parte degli indiani sapere che qualcuno possa fare così tanti soldi con l'insegnamento di una conoscenza che non si crede acquistabile o alienabile come le salsicce", ha sottolineato Metha.

La priorità per il Governo di Nuova Delhi è ora catalogare l'intera Conoscenza tradizionale, inclusi i rimedi ayurvedici e le centinaia di posizioni Yoga, per realizzare un documento digitale in cinque lingue di facile consultazione. In questo modo gli uffici brevetti di tutto il mondo non rischierebbero di cadere nella trappola dei "brevettatori" estremi. "La conoscenza nell'antichità era protetta della Caste e non dagli ambiti economici o legali. Il temine proprietà intellettuale era un ossimoro. L'intelletto non poteva essere la proprietà di qualcuno. Forse è per questo che gli indiani non si sentono obbligati a pagare per la conoscenza", ha spiegato lo scrittore indiano. "Le copie pirata del mio libro sono vendute liberamente sulle strate di Bombay a un quarto del prezzo ufficiale".

Insomma, la copia illegale parrebbe tollerabile ma non l'appropriazione intellettuale. La saggezza indiana non ha prezzo. E se si considera che molti farmaci occidentali sono il frutto di rimedi naturali noti da millenni i conti, forse, non tornano. L'India, fino a poco tempo fa, era il principale produttore di farmaci low-cost tra i paesi in via di sviluppo, ma dopo l'adesione alle normative sul copyright del World Trade Organization questo canale di attività è stato pressoché interrotto.

"Se la riproduzione delle medicine occidentali è illegale, dovrebbe essere lo stesso per i tentativi di brevettare lo Yoga. Si tratta di pirateria intellettuale, in verticale", ha concluso Mehta.

Can you patent wisdom?

I grew up watching my father stand on his head every morning. He was doing sirsasana, a yoga pose that accounts for his youthful looks well into his 60s. Now he might have to pay a royalty to an American patent holder if he teaches the secrets of his good health to others.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued 150 yoga-related copyrights, 134 patents on yoga accessories, and 2,315 yoga trademarks. There's big money in those pretzel twists and contortions - $3 billion a year in America alone. It's a mystery to most Indians that anybody can make that much money from the teaching of a knowledge that is not supposed to be bought or sold like sausages.
The Indian government is not laughing. It has set up a task force that is cataloging traditional knowledge, including ayurvedic remedies and hundreds of yoga poses, to protect them from being pirated and copyrighted by foreign hucksters. The data will be translated from ancient Sanskrit and Tamil texts, stored digitally, and available in five international languages, so that patent offices in other countries can see that yoga didn't originate in a San Francisco commune.
It is worth noting that the people in the forefront of the patenting of traditional Indian wisdom are Indians, mostly overseas. We know a business opportunity when we see one and have exported generations of gurus skilled in peddling enlightenment for a buck. But as Indians, they ought to know that the very idea of patenting knowledge is a gross violation of the tradition of yoga.
In Sanskrit, "yoga" means "union." Indians believe in a universal mind - brahman - of which we are all a part, and which ponders eternally. Everyone has access to this knowledge.
Knowledge in ancient India was protected by caste lines, not legal or economic ones. The term "intellectual property" was an oxymoron: the intellect could not be anybody's property. Perhaps it is for this reason that Indians do not feel obligated to pay for knowledge. Pirated copies of my book are openly sold on the Bombay streets, for a fourth of its official price. Many of the plots and the music in Bollywood movies are lifted wholesale from Hollywood.
Still, Indians get upset every time they hear reports - often overblown - of Westerners' stealing their age-old wisdom through the mechanism of copyright law. The fears may be exaggerated, but they are widespread and reflect India's mixed experience with globalization.
Western pharmaceutical companies make billions on drugs that are often first discovered in developing countries. But herbal remedies like bitter gourd or turmeric, which are known to be effective against everything from diabetes to piles, earn nothing for the country whose sages first isolated their virtues. The Indian government estimates that worldwide, 2,000 patents are issued a year based on traditional Indian medicines.
Drugs and hatha yoga have the same aim: to help us lead healthier lives. India has given the world yoga for free. No wonder so many in the country feel that the world should return the favor by making lifesaving drugs available at reduced prices, or at least letting Indian companies make cheap generics. If the lotus position belongs to all mankind, so should the formula for Gleevec, the leukemia drug over whose patent a Swiss pharmaceuticals company is suing the Indian government.
For decades, Indian law allowed its pharmaceutical companies to replicate Western-patented drugs and sell them at a lower price to countries too poor to afford them otherwise. In this way, India supplied half of the drugs used by HIV-positive people in the developing world.
But in March 2005, the Indian Parliament, under pressure to bring the country into compliance with the World Trade Organization's rules on intellectual property, passed a bill declaring it illegal to make generic copies of patented drugs.
This has put life-saving antiretroviral medications out of reach of many of the nearly 6 million Indians who have AIDS. Yet the very international drug companies that so fiercely protect their patents oppose India's attempts to amend World Trade Organization rules to protect its traditional remedies.
There's more at stake than just the money. There is also the perception that the world trading system is unfair, that the deck is stacked against developing countries. If the copying of Western drugs is illegal, so should be the patenting of yoga. It is also intellectual piracy, stood on its head.
Suketu Mehta is the author of "Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

 

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