Finding the right legal prescription

08:46, April 07, 2010      

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Making full use of existing legal protection for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is more feasible than seeking new approaches, according to Tian Shuyan, dean of Yiling Medical Research Institute in Hebei province.

Tian said China's TCM industry should raise public consciousness about intellectual property protection and domestic enterprises should dig in to study how best to use the current system, relying mainly on patents, technological secrets and trademarks.

Liu Tonghua, a professor at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, said problems for TCM intellectual property protection include low awareness of invention protection, low technological content, shortage of creativity, and lack of basic knowledge and skills in the patent application process.

TCM enterprises can apply for different kinds of patents to cover prescriptions, preparations, new technology, and herbal monomers, Tian said.

He noted that valuable TCM patents are rare compared to the repeated low-level applications that are commonly seen today.

"Due to the long research and development cycle, huge investment and tough market development of TCM, there are few patents that can generate enormous profits," he said. "Financial aid from the government may help to solve this problem."

TCM enterprises can also take the technology secret route to protect their prescriptions," Tian said.

"They need neither report to the authorities nor register with the patent office. As long as they have proof of taking effective security measures with technological secrets that are their own, they can fight back using the law on unfair competition if their prescriptions are illegally copied by others."

Four aspects of TCM need urgent protection, he said - prescriptions, processing technologies, various kinds of treatments and germplasm resources of medicines.

Source: China Daily


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