YogaGlo drops online filming patent

YogaGlo has dropped its patent application for the way it films online yoga classes, according to this post at Yoga International. It cites another post, this one at YogaGlo from a few days ago:

In an effort to remove confusion and concern within the yoga community and beyond, we have decided to focus our efforts on narrowing our protections. To begin this process in earnest, we have decided to forfeit the issued patent. We still believe the look and feel of our classes are unique to YogaGlo and have become associated with high quality teaching. We will continue to protect that just as we would protect our logo or our name.

In the year since our patent was awarded, there have been several new entrants to the online yoga space and we’ve been thrilled to see that. We have not enforced our patent and we firmly stand by our belief that encouraging all companies to be creative and develop their own unique look and feel (rather than copying from others) is a vital way that online yoga customers will have the best available choices for their practice and that online yoga communities will thrive.

Our coverage of the issue is here. YogaGlo at one point send a cease and desist order to Yoga International over the issue (thus the interest on YI’s part).

A key thing about this was that it wasn’t about “copyrighting” yoga. It was about the specific filming perspective YogaGlo uses, meant to give viewers the sense they are part of the online class.

This seems to have ended with an actual “namaste.”

Posted by Steve

YogaGlo explains its video patent, wants to move forward now

We’ve been watching the story unfold around YogaGlo’s decision to patent the particular (or not so particular) way it films its online yoga classes. It got the patent earlier this month, although it seems that the general consensus is: What?

Well, YogaGlo has now responded to all the criticism:

As you may have heard, YogaGlo recently received a patent for one very specific way to create yoga class videos for online streaming. Although we issued a statement containing the facts about this patent a few months ago, many yoga organizations, publications, blogs, teachers and students continue to share false and misleading information about what it all means. The misplaced disdain that has been directed toward us, our teachers, and parts of the yoga community is extremely unfortunate and has created fear within the yoga community.

I’m going to break in here for a second. I think there’s been less fear than disbelief or outrage. But that’s me. On with the show:

The patent covers only one of many ways an online yoga-related company or individual teacher might create a class for online streaming. In fact, several elements need to be present in the same video for a class to be in conflict with our patent. Meaning, for the overwhelming majority of you, the patent will be completely irrelevant.  Only a handful of companies in some of their classes have copied all of the critical elements in our patent.

The critical elements of the patent include:

  • a line of sight corridor between the rear area of a class and the instructor in the front of the class;
  • an image capturing device located in the rear area with an unobstructed view of the instructor, to provide a participatory view through the line of sight corridor;
  • students in a class, facing the instructor, distributed across the classroom between the instructor position and the image capturing device wherein the students do not block the corridor.

Again, all of these elements must be present in the same video for our patent to be relevant.

The post then showcases what YogaGlo video classes look like versus all the other options under the sun. And it hones in on all the false statements YogaGlo folks think have been out there. And it moves through a whole section titled “Spreading the Fear” before finishing with a section “Moving Forward.”

Not sure this will be enough to get to that point. But it is the holidays, so who knows?

Posted by Steve

A non-yogi take on the YogaGlo video patent: Sign of ‘dysfunctional’ rules

For those interested in the whole YogaGlo video patent kerfuffle, here’s a take on things that doesn’t involve karma, the yamas or anything else yogic.

It’s a Washington Post blog:

But the fact that opponents of the patent had to look for prior art is a sign of just how dysfunctional the rules for approving patents have become. Finding prior art is how you prove that a patent fails the law’s novelty requirement: If others were practicing the invention long before you came up with it, it’s not patentable. But novelty isn’t the only criterion for patent protection. A patent must also claim something that is non-obvious and a “process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter.” YogaGlo seems defective on both counts.

People have been setting up video cameras at the back of rooms for decades, and realizing that you could set up a camera at the back of a yoga studio is hardly a major breakthrough. But the courts have tended to interpret the obviousness requirement narrowly, requiring fairly specific evidence that the idea would have been obvious at the time it was invented. So a concept that would have seemed obvious to most yoga instructors (or, for that matter, most people who own a video camera) was ruled non-obvious by the patent office.

It concludes with this:

But the culture of the patent office, shaped by decisions of the patent-friendly appeals court that governs patent law, tends to give applicants the benefit of the doubt. The Patent Office is steeped in the culture of the patent bar, which generally sees more patenting as a good thing. And rejecting patents can get examiners bogged down in never-ending arguments with applicants, who have a virtually unlimited opportunity to refile rejected applications.

As a result, the Patent Office routinely grants patents that most people who aren’t patent lawyers think are obvious —or not really an “invention” at all. Like setting a video camera up at the back of a yoga studio and pushing “record.”

So it isn’t just you if you think the YogaGlo patent seems pretty dang silly.

I’m going to spend the weekend patenting yoga blogging, I think. Await my lawyer’s letter, fellow bloggers.

Posted by Steve

YogaGlo gets its copyright for video classes, but what next?

So Yogaglo received its patent for the way it films its online yoga classes on Monday.

Yes, one of those things that make you go, “Hmmm.”

Our earlier coverage of the issue is here. The latest, via Yoga Alliance (which has been opposing the patent) is right here. Key excerpts:

On Oct. 7, YogaGlo amended one of its patent applications. Their response to the USPTO’s action acknowledged that the “prior art” the examiner found invalidated YogaGlo’s initial claims, but the amendment slightly revised the claims by explicitly noting that the camera used to record online classes must “provide a participatory view from a height of about three feet.”

“By ‘participatory view’ we mean a view observed by a participant in the rear of the class,” YogaGlo explained in its response.

Amended Patent Application Approved

On Oct. 29, the examiner determined that he could not find any prior art that barred YogaGlo’s amended claim, so he issued a Notice of Allowance and approved the patent. YogaGlo paid the issue fee on Nov. 13.

So far it doesn’t sound very promising for those who oppose YogaGlo’s attempt to patent its obvious “invention.”

But not so fast.

Like the sound of that “But not so fast?” To try to sum up the issue, it is still pretty unclear whether YogaGlo really came up with the “back of class, 3 feet high” video perspective. Other groups — Yoga Alliance doesn’t name them — may have been doing similar types of filming before YogaGlo. If so, that likely would make the patent unenforceable. Here is the key issue on that from Yoga Alliance:

We have learned that video material on YogaGlo’s own website predates its original filing on Aug. 27, 2010 by more than one year, and duplicates the system and method of recording a yoga class that YogaGlo is trying to patent. That video material clearly constitutes prior art that invalidates the claims in YogaGlo’s patent and renders it unenforceable.

For more, here is Yoga International’s piece.

I don’t see any statements yet from YogaGlo.

Update: Not, from YogaGlo, but an “open letter” from Yoga International is right here.

Posted by Steve

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