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or Emblica officinalis or Phyllanthus emblica is a small genus of trees,
native of India, Srilanka, Malaysia and China. It is known as adiphala, dhatri and amalaka
in Sanskrit, amla in Hindi or Bengali, amali in Gujrati, amalakamu and usirikai in Telugu,
nelli in Tamil, Kanada and Malayalam. The tree is cultivated very widely in India; in fact
it is being done at very large scale in some states of the country. Amla fruit is known
for many of its medicinal properties for a long time and is reported to be acrid, cooling,
refrigerant, diuretic and laxative. Dried fruit is useful in haemorrhage, diarrhoea and
dysentery. Amla is an important constituent of triphala, a known ayurvedic formulation
used as laxative and treating biliousness. The dried fruit is detergent and is used as
shampoo. These are so many known applications of this tree and its products that many
companies dealing in traditional medicines use amla fruit for preparing different
formulations for treating several diseases, as health tonic etc. Wealth of India gives
many details of this plant including the detailed chemical composition of the fruit,
seeds, bark and leaves. Based on such wonderful utilities of this plant, one would expect
a large number of patents related to amla. However, not many patents have been granted. A
patent search was carried out using key words Emblica officinalis, Indian gooseberry, amla
and Phyllanthus emblica.
Some patents have been granted by the USPTO in which amla appears in the claims and the list is provided below:-
The patent at serial number 1 claims a composition of herbal tea in which amla is one of the constituents along with many other ingredients including arjuna, clove, cinnamon, turmeric, with amla and ocimum bascilium. The patent by Natreon was discussed in the last issue of the bulletin. The patent by Creative Nutrition claims a composition comprising shilajit used for restoring energetic balance or intensity to enhance a bio energetic field in a mammal. Amla in the form of triphala has been used to purify the shilajit extract. The patent granted to Rohtagi, an Indian national, relates to an ayurvedic composition comprising of amla and other herbs for treatment of some serious diseases. The composition can be dispensed in powder form and in capsule or syrup form. Processes for preparing various compositions have also been claimed. Similarly, the patent granted to Eladevi relates a composition comprising amla as an important constituent. It is claimed that compositions are useful in treating psoriasis and eczema.
There are four patents at the application stage in the Japanese Patent Office. There are:
The application by Takara Shuzo Co Ltd., claims a composition having an extract of amla fruit, bark and seed useful as a therapeutic agent for rheumatism and deformant arthritis. This composition, which acts as an inhibitor, is added to food, beverages; bread, confectionery etc. The application uses the word 'amla' indicating a link with India at some stage of the invention. The Unilever application relates a hair blackening composition extracted from amla fruit with an aqueous and / or organic solvent and at least one soluble ferric salt, preferably ferric ammonium sulfate 12 hydrate or ferric chloride. The application on peroxylipid formation inhibitor relates to a composition containing one or two or more extracts obtained from fruits of Emblica officinalis, Terminalia chebula Retz or Terminalia belerica. The inhibitor is mixed in food, beverages etc. The last application deals with a composition comprising extract of amla fruit to obtain aging preventive food agent to be used as a tonic. All these applications will need to be monitored for knowing the exact nature of claims when patents have been granted. It is possible that some extracts from amla fruit may have been claimed.
There are two applications pending in the EPO. The first one is by Eau de Cologne & Parfumerie - Fabrik Glockengasse of Germany relating to an amla plant extract for cosmetic proposes. Incidentally, the inventor is a person of Indian origin - Dr Shyam Singh Verma. The second one is also by the same company relating to an extract of amla plant for cosmetic purposes. These two applications should be different from each other. These applications, may be monitored to learn about the exact nature of claims.
There are as many as 5 PCT applications on the subject and the list is given below.
The applications at serial numbers 1, 3 and 4 were first filed in Germany and at 2 and 5 were first filed in France. The first application appears to be the same which was earlier filed in the EPO. The application by Claude Hanna relates to compositions, comprising extract of amla plant, having depigmenting activity. The composition is expected to regulate skin pigmentation. The inventions of Dr Verma relate to composition meant for skin care; extract of amla plant is one of the constituents of these compositions. The application by Hassan Halaby relates to extracts obtained by decoction and steam distillation of a combination of plants comprising 35-80% of myrtle (leaves and fruits), 20-65% of amla (fruit) or a combination of 2-15% of aniseed, 2-15% zyzyphus (leaves and fruits ) and 6-25% of myrobalan. The composition will be useful for controlling hair loss. The current status of these applications is not known. Further, it has been observed that all these applicatoins have deisgnated a large number of countries.
There is one applicaiton by Lupin Laboratories entitled "Ayurvedic formulation from amla and ritha" is pending with the Indian Patent Office. The applications was filed in1997.
It can be seen that the activity on patenting of amla related compositions and processes have picked up in the decade of nineties. Most applicaitons/ patents are for the uses for which amla has been used for many years. However, the compositions/ processes claimed in patents may not be identical to what are already known or may be different in efficacy. Therefore, experts working in area must evaluate these patents carefully for planning future research and development. It is also likely that there may be direct or indirect effect on the export of amla based products from India. Industries dealing with such products need to take a note of these rapid developments and position themselves accordingly.