India: Colgate patented traditional remedy, opponents claim

“Indian activists claim that the patent [awarded to Colgate for a tooth powder] is bogus because the ingredients — including clove oil, camphor, black pepper and spearmint — have been used for the same purpose for hundreds, ‘if not thousands,’ of years on the subcontinent.” [Fox Orlando]


  • This sounds more like a “recipe”, which, as I understand, is not patentable.

  • If there’s no unexpected synergy, it’s not clear what was patented. If there is an unexpected synergy, then that the individual ingredients have been used for many years don’t change the fact that Colgate may have discovered the synergy. A patent doesn’t stop anyone from continuing to do what they’ve always been doing.

  • Christ — food recipes are theoretically patentable, but such patents are hard to get because of substantial prior art. A recipe for tooth paste is patentable assuming it meets the other requirements of patentability.