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This patent application US20130047644 A1 refers to using Vetiver grass roots for cooling screens. Seems strange to attempt to patent this use as Vetiver roots have been used for this purpose for millennia in India, and the knowledge has been in the public domain for centuries. Patently unpatentable?

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The application looks like it was drafted by someone unfamiliar with the patenting process. – George White Apr 12 '13 at 3:45
    
It should be pretty easy to find prior art for this. Can you provide a publication describing this use prior to August 2011? – Joel Spolsky Apr 12 '13 at 17:22
    
This paper seems to be dateable to 2003. vetiver.com/ICV3-Proceedings/THAI_other%20uses.pdf by looking at the confernce program here vetiver.org/TVN_ICV3_proceedings.htm – George White Apr 12 '13 at 18:59
    
I am not able to find any publicationlisting the use of vetiver for cooling screens, but we had been using them for hundreds of years in TamilNadu, India and probably in other parts of India as well as a rich man's air-conditioner. I had seen this used in our house as well as in the neighborhood as a child and am sure that many more have as well. There is nothing to invent here and this looks like a clear case of usurping knowledge that has been in the public domain for personal reasons – user4133 Jun 26 '13 at 16:40
    
I am not able to find any publicationlisting the use of vetiver for cooling screens, but we had been using them for hundreds of years in TamilNadu, India and probably in other parts of India as well, as an air-conditioner. I had seen this used as a child in our house and many other houses in my neighborhood and am definitely sure that this has been in vogue for a long time. There is nothing new to invent here and this looks like a clear case of usurping knowledge that has been in the public domain for personal reasons. This is just another shade of bio-piracy. – user4133 Jun 26 '13 at 16:54

According to the Wikipedia page for the plant, there is a reference to cooling uses in the book CRC Handbook of alternative cash crops published in 1993.

I do not own this book, so I can not personally verify the claim.

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Using mats made of "khus"/ Vetiver grass is used extensively in India during the summer months. These mats of the roots of the "Khus" plant are bound in wooden box frames with a fan inside which blows cool air after the mats are made wet with water dripping from the top. The plant is also used for making a cooling drink sold commonly across India

Here is an abstract from a write up on the railways system in British India, circa 1911. " ... The first and second classes are invariably supplied with bathrooms, so that the traveller can enjoy the luxury of the tub. The water which is carried on the roof is replenished frequently at the larger stations. In summer the windows are fitted with rotating fans, that force moist, cooled air through dripping khus khus (a species of tall grass) mats. These luxuries are a necessity in the burning sun of the Indian plains. "

The entire link is http://www.irfca.org/docs/history/railway-gazette-railways-india-1911.html Another refernce is from the Gazette This patent is specious and illegal. Khus roots for cooling have been used for more than a century in India and Pakistan.

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Using Vetiver /khus roots for cooling screens and cooling blinds/thick curtain is very very old tradition in India. One can find households using it still. In Madhya Pradesh and UttarPradesh in India so many manufacturers still make this curtains for domestic use as well as export. In fact the people applied for patent must be of Indian origin. Because for such knowledge we have local phrase in Hindi "yeh to bacha bacha janta hai" Means "each and every child knows it."

As for its references, one can find it in any Sanskrit writings including centuries old Ayurved, Charaksahinta and other literature. It has been in extensive use by East India company before independence of India 1947,tribal people hand made cooling curtains and cooling pads were used for several years in Desert coolers, as it is locally called, from wild indigenous Vetiver root. After colonial raj,independent India had this cooling curtains in all the government offices located in in Nagpur and Chandrapur in Maharashtra State. In fact 2 months of extreme summer i.e April and may every year Cetral Government of India had special budgetary provision in these district offices, for watering personnel's special allowances.

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