by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
india, patents, toothpaste, traditional remedies


Colgate Patents Traditional Indian Tooth-cleaning Powder Despite It Being Used For Thousands Of Years

from the locking-up-knowledge dept

Over the years, we've seen a number of stories of big companies going into various countries, finding "traditional" and "herbal" remedies, and then figuring out ways to patent them. The latest such example, sent in by sinsi, involves Colgate "patenting" (in the US) a tooth-cleaning powder based on a recipe that has been used in India for "thousands" of years according to officials there. The patent itself (7,736,629) is for a "red herbal dentrifice" and, if you read the claims, it seems clear that they're just patenting a "recipe" of sorts, which alone seems ridiculous enough. But when you add in the fact that it's been used so widely in traditional Indian society, it gets even sillier. The whole thing appears to be yet another example of companies trying to use patent laws to lock up widely known knowledge... with the Patent Office assisting.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2010 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re: Really?

    You have read from what are known as "dependent" claims, i.e., claims that include all of the limitation from an "independent" claim and add additional subject matter.

    The sole independent claim in this patent is:

    1. A tooth powder composition comprising:

    (a) calcium carbonate having properties of particle size and angularity effective to provide mild abrasivity to dental enamel, wherein the particle size is selected from the group consisting of about 0.5 to about 30 μm and about 1 to about 15 μm;

    (b) an effective amount of a red iron oxide of low abrasivity which imparts a red color to the composition; and

    (c) a herbal component comprising at least one botanical agent or extract thereof,

    wherein the calcium carbonate and red iron oxide are present in a weight ratio selected from the group consisting of about 5:1 to about 100:1 and about 10:1 to about 50:1.

    If the above "tooth powder" has been around for as long as stated in the article, then it should be a relatively easy matter for someone to come forth and identify such a tooth powder.

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