Update on the latest yoga lawsuit: The fight back (Updated)

The inevitable backlash against YogaGlo’s attempt to patent its style and method of filming yoga classes for online use — which we highlighted here — has begun.

And the group behind the main effort is none other than Yoga Alliance. It has started a petition to have YogaGlo withdraw the patent application:

We call on YogaGlo to live up to its claim of encouraging “more access to yoga, not less,” by withdrawing its patent application. We also encourage our Registered Yoga Teachers and Registered Yoga Schools, and anyone else who supports yoga and/or the appropriate use of the U.S. patent system, to sign this petition asking YogaGlo to withdraw its patent application.

The petition site has some good details from YogaGlo’s patent application. As of this moment it has 4,162 of a desired 10,000 signatures.

I know only tangential things about Yoga Alliance. Mainly, I know that some yoga teachers have felt underwhelmed by its ability to support them via insurance, training, government relations needs, etc. But I think Yoga Alliance has heard those complaints and is trying to be more activist. And this is an example of that.

We’ll see where it goes.

Update (Thursday afternoon California time):

YogaGlo has a response, I guess from Wednesday, to all the hubbub. It reads, in part:

To clarify many of the comments being made and address your questions:

  • We have not sued anyone or filed a lawsuit.
  • We are not trying to patent how classes are taught in studios all over the world.
  • We are not trying to patent how a teacher might film instruction for their students in their own studio or how one might wish to film a DVD.
  • Our patent application deals very specifically with online streaming yoga classes, and in that, it deals with only one of many possible ways to film online streaming yoga classes.
  • So what is the YogaGlo way of filming classes? Our patent application clearly outlines that the “look and feel” of a YogaGlo online streaming class is comprised of the following elements that all must be present in conjunction with one another: position of camera, position of the teacher, position of the mats relative to the camera and the teacher, an open corridor down the middle, the teacher must be facing the camera, the students must be facing the teacher, etc. We are not seeking to patent a camera angle. We are not seeking to patent the placement of a teacher in a room (online, offline, in your private studio, in your public studio). We are seeking to patent this one very particular combination of elements for a single online class.
  • There is more than one way to film and stream an online yoga class. Many wonderful online yoga businesses film their classes differently and are thriving. Many online yoga customers prefer their look to ours. We aren’t trying to patent how they film their classes. We are simply trying to patent our way of filming online classes.

My guess is this isn’t going to go far enough. As the comments here, and other places, suggest, people aren’t buying the “patent our way of filming” argument.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

9 thoughts on “Update on the latest yoga lawsuit: The fight back (Updated)”

  1. Signed. It’s basically Bikram 2.0 and it’s stupid. Don’t think it will play well for them… out of 6 people I know who are members of YogaGlo, 5 will cancel their subscription. This whole idea is horrible, but I guess greed got to them. I just don’t understand how any serious yoga teacher could support this any longer. Hope it blows up in their faces.

  2. This is by no means Bikram 2.0. The application (US 2012/0162419) is simply directed to what the applicants believe is an improved method of filming a yoga class. It would not stop anyone from pracitcing yoga, nor from filming yoga classes in other manners. If the approach is novel and non-obvious — Why shouldn’t the applications reap the rewards for their improvement? — same as any other inventor. On the other hand the PTO is likely to decide that the claims are not patentable. — Then no problem for anyone. Moreover, until the patent is issued there is no patent basis for a cease and desist. — Perhaps YogaGlo could base an immediate claim by arguing infringment of trade dress — However, that is a matter of local law and not a patent issue.

  3. Are you kidding me? As if their “camera angel” is anything special. There have been millions of yoga classes on TV or DVD filmed this way, so it wouldn’t be their place to sue for this. And second, seriously? Other yoga sites/studios should be forced by law to film at another camera angle? You can’t patent a camera angle, that’s just insane. It’s like saying you can’t take a picture of the Eiffeltower up front, because I’ve already done that and it’s
    my patent now.

    1. I agree with you here, but all this is distracting noise to go to YogaGlo’s website… Promotion either positive or negative is promotion….

  4. Well — If the camera angle (or other particularities that they are claiming) are in the prior art (i.e. have been done before) then patent will be deemed anticipated and/or non-obvious and claims won’t issue. Hence no problem. Lots of people file patent applications for things really cannot be patented. Typically such applications don’t result in issued patents.
    So . . . . chill.

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