What’s that? India takes step to thwart trademarking of yoga poses

We may not have to worry about U.S.-based yoga trademark battles (hi to all our Bikram readers!) much longer.

We may have to pay attention to what the Indian government is doing, though.

According to this story at the Economic Times, the Indian government has taken steps that would keep what it refers to as MNCs, which I’m taking to mean multinational corporations, from trademarking yoga poses. Some 1,500 of them. From the story:

The initiative will be a part of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), a unit of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of the Ministry of Science and Technology, which challenges claims made at several patent offices across the globe by individuals and MNCs.

“Our experts have identified over 1500 yoga techniques from the literature available from our ancient texts and what is available now. Nearly 250 asanas have been video graphed already. It should take five or six months to complete the process, after which it can be the part of the database.

“Once that happens, any attempt to claim patent on the Indian yoga techniques practised since ancient time can be thwarted,” said Archana Sharma, head of TKDL.

Apparently, it was the trademarking of neem and tumeric in the past that propelled this idea. But it has clear ties to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push to have yoga recognized as a part of India’s tradition and history, laying a bit stronger claim to it than the country has up until now.

Here’s a bit more on the database:

Following this, it was decided to form TKDL. Today its database has over 2.93 lakh medicines, their properties indicating that those have been traditionally used for cure in Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha systems. The information is also present in Spanish, German, English, Japanese and French languages.

The database is shared with the European Patent Office (EPO), United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), German Patent Office (GPO), Intellectual Property Australia (IPA), Japanese Patent Office (JPO) and Chile Patent Office (CPO) under a “non-disclosure” pact.

The idea then is, if you seek a patent, it goes through all those hoops — and thus would halt any claim about an asana.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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