Sunday, June 13, 2010

Science of Life - Ayurveda

We recently released our Life Sciences index which holds all of the concepts and ideas contained in over 800,000 US patents in the life sciences domain. While our index covers concepts beginning in the 70s right into the current century, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a life sciences repository that covers discovers in life sciences over thousands of years -- the Science of Life - the Indian art and science of Ayurveda. Ayuh and Veda which literally mean Science of Life.

The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)'s Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy, part of the Indian Government, is compiling a massive database of of traditional medicines and ancient remedies that it wants to protect from being patented in other countries. The goal is to protect the collective traditional knowledge of India by making it available to patent examiners around the world in a way that is accessible and usable.

The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) contains information on Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, and Yoga. It contains over 1200 formulations including 500 representative Ayurveda formulations, 500 Unani formulations and 200 Siddha formulations all linked to the International Patent Classification system (IPC). It includes easy to understand information how the compounds are formulated, what the treatment is useful for and the dosage information. It also contains a list of prior art documents ad the dates of publication.

Information in the TKDL has been successfully used as prior art to force the withdrawal of patent applications using traditional formulations. The formulations sections contain the Title of the Traditional Knowledge Resource and "Knowledge Since" information which has entries with listings citing 1000 years. Now that's some prior art.

For those of you who are classification junkies the TKDL has identified approximately 200 subgroups on medicinal plants where they recommend the TKDL be linked to to aid patent examiners in looking for prior art that relates to India's traditional knowledge. To see the list click here.

Among their more recent achievements is documenting over 900 yoga poses to block entrepreneurs from getting yoga-related patents. Yoga has been around for over 6,000 years embodying both a physical and spiritual practice. Yoga has grown into a $250 billion industry.

This is not just trendy news from the world of Yoga. Not news from Lululemon, home of yoga inspired clothing for healthy living and whose stock is heading off the charts and not news from the Facebook group called Yoga Pants, with over 78,000 people who clicked like (my guess is mostly guys but I digress...) but the work of scholars, yoga gurus, and experts have been documenting over 900 yoga poses in ancient Sanskrit texts.

This is an awesome resource for researchers. We're going to use some of the text of the formulas in our Life Sciences index and see what comes up. We expect it will be an interesting intersection of digital life sciences and the digital science of life. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life Science Patents Are Different - The Word Count

In the process of building our Life Sciences Index we learned a few things about why Life Sciences patents are different. They are different because of their content, the science, the inventions. But they are also different because of the way inventors describe their inventions, the complexity of the subject matter, the amount of new vocabulary created by inventors, and the convergence of science in the Life Sciences domain.

Here is a snap shot of some of what we learned:

The average non-life sciences patent contains 250 unique terms. Life science/Biotech patents average over 825 unique words in each patent.

The average non-life sciences patent has 10-20 columns of text. Life Science/Biotech patents have 40-80 columns.