Neem It Up!

A thumping ovation to the Organizers of the recently concluded Neem Conference held in the balmy city of Coimbatore.

Spearheading the Neem Revolution, the Neem Foundation organized the 5th World Neem Conference (WNC) 2007 to popularize the Neem tree and its vast potential in the bio-sphere. Attended by delegates from 35 countries the conference highlighted the latest breakthroughs in Neem research, organic farming, bio-medicine, socio-economic issues and intellectual property rights.

Having captured popular acclaim as the wonder tree of the humid tropics, the potential benefits form the Neem Tree reads like a medicinal cornucopia derived from Pre-Vedic. times.

The neem tree (Azadirachta indica) originates from the Indian subcontinent and now grows in the dry regions of more than 50 tropical countries around the world. The Neem tree has multiple uses. It is mentioned in Indian texts written over 2000 years ago and has been used for centuries by local communities in agriculture as an insect and pest repellent, in human and veterinary medicine, toiletries and cosmetics. It is also venerated in the culture, religions and literature of the region.

Since the 1980s, many neem related process and products have been patented in Japan, USA and European countries.

The first US patent was obtained by Terumo Corporation in 1983 for its therapeutic preparation from neem bark. In 1985 Robert Larson from (USDA) obtained a patent for his preparation of neem seed extract and the Environmental Protection Agency approved this product for use in US market. In 1988 Robert Larson sold the patent on an extraction process to the US Company W.R. Grace (presently Certis). Having gathered their patents and clearance from the EPA, four years later, Grace commercialized its product by setting up manufacturing plant in collaboration with P.J. Margo Pvt. Ltd in India and continued to file patents from their own research in USA and other parts of world

The Indian Kurushethra against a Neem patent held by W.R. Grace & Co. brought to light the intellectual property related issues controversies and reiterated the menace of


These two cases not only created a global awareness on neem and its properties but also raised issues on biopiracy, need for documentation of traditional knowledge, equitable sharing of gains from traditional knowledge and harmonization of patent rule. Success of revocation of European patent illustrates the requirement of systematic documentation of knowledge whether traditional or scientific. Further these cases demonstrate the potential of IPR in creating awareness, enthusiasm in scientists, entrepreneurs, organizations and society and increased investments in research and development of products which compete in the market place. This is evident from upward trend of patents filed globally on neem from 1994 – 96 onwards – intense patent debate period and commercial product available in markets from neem.

Largest number of patents is in USA (54) followed by Japan (35), Australia (23), India (14). In India additionally more than 53 patent applications are pending for either gazette notification or opposition since 1995. If granted India will have the largest number of patents in neem. This illustrates that IPR does not stifle creativity and innovation but creates challenges and opportunities to over come the existing patents barriers by innovation and invention. (Courtesy: Pramilla Thakkar, Neem Foundation)

No Bitter Sweet Victory this-after all bitter sweet is an acquired taste.

One comment.

  1. AvatarAnonymous

    Neem can be viewed as a medicinal plant which fetches more money by the professional smugglers who Patent but for Indians(especially people of tamil nadu)it is a divine plant which is part of their life style since neem leaves is not only used as pesticide and medicine but also kept in
    1.The entrance of houses during festivals as auspicious.
    2.Believed to be taking bad eye and riding ghost.
    3.dress made of neem twigs and leaves are wore and people go round temple as an offering of prayer in Amman temples.
    4.Any illeterate men and women in Tamil nadu knows allmost all uses of neem and neem products.instead of wasting the money on researching neem come and ask them they will tell by what means and for what neem and neem products has to be used.


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