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April 09, 1998

Ours is not a product patent, says US company chief


Sir, I am writing this letter to dispel certain misconceptions in the minds of exporters, scientists and the media that export of black pepper, its oleoresins and its active principle piperine will be affected because of a new application patent held by Sabinsa Corporation, New Jersey, USA (IE, March 12).

Our patent is specific to the use of piperine in order to enhance the bio availability of nutritional compounds like vitamins, amino acids and minerals. Ours is not a product patent but is only for a specific and new unreported use of piperine. We have already made it clear to the Spices Board and the Government of India, Ministry of Commerce, that " we cannot and do not intend to stop the exports of black pepper and piperine from India" because of our patent on its new and hitherto unknown application. There is no implied or otherwise restriction on export of black pepper, its oleoresins and piperine from India because of Sabinsa’s usage patent.

There has also been confusion about a CSIR ‘drug’ being sold in the US on the sly using the name given to it by its developer in India. This is wrong. The name Picroliv was assinged to us as a registered trade mark by the US Trade Mark and Patent office dated June 16, 1992 as per our search in good faith and to no one else. The plant Picorhiza Kurroa has been used for hundreds of years in Ayurveda.

This knowledge is in the public domain by way of published literature. The product has been marketed in the US and many other countries for many years now making use of not only the India Picorhiza Kurroa but also that of Chinese origin. The product is not patentable because of its known and prior use in Ayurveda.

Dr. Muhammed Majeed
President and CEO
Sabinsa Corporation