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Yoga Alliance Starts Petition Urging YogaGlo to Withdraw Patent Application, Stop ‘Bullying’

in Business of Yoga

yogaglo-petitionWhoa, is that really you, Yoga Alliance? We didn’t recognize you there being all vocal and taking a public stance on a pressing yoga matter and stuff. Yet, lo and behold, this afternoon the Yoga Alliance issued their own version of a cease and desist of YogaGlo’s potential competition crushing patent on their online yoga class schema, aka PR nightmare. In the email, YA President and CEO Richard Karpal shares in the frustration many felt when they learned of the pending patent, and then he proceeds to do what we’ve been waiting for YA to do all along, have a say on something and incite union.

Yoga Alliance supports the proper use and enforcement of intellectual property rights. For instance, we don’t like it when other yoga organizations appropriate our name, which is our intellectual property. We also support the patenting of real inventions, which serve to protect inventors’ economic interest in their work.

However, we don’t believe YogaGlo’s “invention” qualifies for patent protection. Videotaping a yoga teacher in a live classroom setting is an obvious idea, not an invention. Therefore, YogaGlo’s patent application can serve only one purpose: To manipulate the legal system in order to suppress competition by bullying other online yoga-instruction businesses and individual yoga teachers into submission when they use a similar method of recording and presenting online classes.

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.

Richard Karpel
President and CEO
Yoga Alliance

At publish time, the petition itself already has over 500 of its goal of 1,000 signatures. (Update: the goal’s been bumped to 10,000.) Here is what people are signing:

Dear Derik Mills, CEO of YogaGlo,

I was outraged to learn of your patent application that seeks to patent the viewpoint of a yoga instructional video and your subsequent cease and desist letters to ther online creators of yoga instructional videos.

I don’t believe YogaGlo’s “invention” qualifies for patent protection. Videotaping a yoga teacher in a live classroom setting is an obvious idea, not an invention. Therefore, YogaGlo’s patent application can serve only one purpose: To manipulate the legal system in order to suppress competition by bullying other online yoga-instruction businesses and individual yoga teachers into submission when they use a similar method of recording and presenting online classes.

I hope that YogaGlo will live up to its claim of encouraging “more access to yoga, not less,” by withdrawing its patent application. I also hope you will stop sending cease and desist letters to other online yoga instructional video creators. 

Those are strong words. Will you sign? And do you think the Yoga Alliance had a responsibility to step in?



Firestorm After YogaGlo Moves to Patent Online Yoga Class Setup

41 comments… add one
  • natasha

    absolutely. agree with every word.

  • Harriet Roberts

    Totally agree with Yoga Alliance’s position against YogaGlow’s patent application. This is a blatant attempt to push around the rest of the yoga world solely for YogaGlow’s profit, where online videos have become popular and an effective way to spread yoga to all by all. Thank you YA for taking this stance.

  • Jen

    Where’s this petition? I’m heading to the Alliance website right now to sign it. I’m sick of corporations bastardizing the intention of Yoga. It’s not up for grabs! It belongs to everyone!! Geez, the more people jump on the commercialized Yoga bandwagon the less Yoga is actually YOGA!

  • c

    i already video tape some of my classes as do presenters, teachers all over… this would be like patenting taking a photo… not sure it’s worth even signing the petition, this will go no-where.

  • me

    Signed. Of course. Remind me to think twice about buying anything from them.

  • Vision_Quest2

    Again, I’m glad I don’t have the streaming capability for that site …

  • matt

    I’m missing something here. Why shouldn’t YogaGlo be able to protect the time, money, investment they’ve put into establishing their brand and business. This isn’t YogaBucks franchise yoga. This is a small business that has succeeded. Why is there such an uproar? They are going through the proper protection procedures, and ultimately the Patent Office will decide if their approach is “unique” and all the other requirements. At least this is fair. Why isn’t there an uproar when Yogaworks sells over 10,000 LivingSocial deals at a complete loss, hosing current members, straining instructors who are already underpaid and crushing independent students. Where’s the petition on that kind of business practice that seems much more “unfair” “bullying”? Let the Patent office decide this. YogaGlo seems about as non-corparate as you can get. They got into this space early, built a studio, invested, found great instructors and priced their product fairly. The intellectual property world is designed for exactly that kind of innovation. If you think that Yoga isn’t a business, then sadly you are kidding yourself.

    And yes, I’m a yoga practitioner (please don’t tell me how to define ‘yoga’), independent studio owner and an attorney.

    • matt

      And I’ve subscribed to their service for about two years now.

    • Tom


      I think people understand that there can be business in yoga. Protect your name and trademark it. Copyright your books and articles. That’s fair. That’s good business because you’re protecting what you built. But YogaGlo is taking things MUCH further. They are claiming ownership over the idea of filming a yoga class with extremely broad parameters.

      Imagine this: “Judy” in Nebraska films her yoga class for a couple of students (from an obvious straight-on perspective)…. and YogaGlo is actively seeking to either prevent her from doing so, or they are going to require that she pay them royalties for the “right” to film her class.

      Can you see how this is a bit different than just protecting themselves? They are working to actively insert themselves into your business and your teachings — and people are smart enough to see that this is both wrong and unacceptable.

      What they are doing now is not justified in any business (forget just yoga).

    • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet

      “Let the Patent office decide this.”

      LOL, right, now please remember, this is the same patent office that, at first blush, let Bikram patent the idea of yoga in a hot room.

  • Angela

    Rather ironic considering the Yoga Alliance is forcing each yoga studio with a teacher training program to make their syllabus public by January. Most studios consider their lesson plans proprietary, but instead of working with the studios, the Yoga Alliance is rolling over them.

  • Jiro Lathan

    Really? This is where YA is stepping in? How have they advocated for a yoga teacher except for publishing a name on a directory? How are they protecting students from lecherous teachers?

  • doug

    hey, in your lead paragraph, you spell Yoga Alliance CEO Richard Karpel’s name wrong, and yet his name is in the letter you reproduce!

  • YogiaA

    I agree with you Matt. Shame on us all for jumping to conclusions without knowing all the facts.

    YogaGlo is a small business trying to protect their stuff. Sorry Tom but your example of Judy in Nebraska is exaggerated. YogaGlo is not trying to patent “teacher at the front of the room” yoga. It is the specific mix of parameters. I subscribe to all of the popular streaming sites and none have the YogaGlo setup.

    If I were a YogaGlo competition and set out to arrange a studio camera angle to look just like YogaGlo’s I would feel phony. So maybe there is something there.

    Yoga Alliance is acting way too quickly IMHO. Dramatic, unprofessional, and bullish.

    Supported YogaGlo from the beginning and will continue to.

    • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet

      “the specific mix of parameters.”

      What is that supposed to mean?

  • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet

    Just boycott them. That will work.

  • No and No.

  • I think this whole reaction to YogaGlo is way overblown. It’s a company protecting their brand. I’m not going to stop my membership, they provide a great service. No one is getting sued.

    The unexpected story: Finally. Yoga Alliance gets a backbone and some relevance. With the new efforts to create and enforce standards, I’m just surprised this is the issue they choose. With all the questions of ethical behavior that have arisen – like the teacher who writes it’s totally okay to sleep with students (Blurred Lines…) – I would rather them weigh in on things like that.

    AND btw – SO glad to hear they are requiring schools to submit syllabi. That’s a lesson plan, not the manual. Hopefully that will encourage more professionalism and organization on the part of the schools.

    • Tom

      No one is suing now (because they can’t yet), but make no mistake about it, YogaGlo intends to make money off licensing their general parameters for a yoga class and requiring teachers to pay them .. Or else yes, you’ll get sued – that’s the whole reason you apply for a patent. If you are down for that, support them. Seriously, read their patent. They are trying to patent the experience of being in a yoga class. If it goes through, perhaps someone else will patent other angles and then we’ll be left with no ability to publish our own work.

  • Himix

    Imagine if India had patented Yoga.

    • Stewart Lawrence

      Wish it had. We’d all be a lot better off. And so would India.

  • Yep and Yep.

  • PS in NY

    To those defending YogaGlo: This company is NOT protecting their brand. They are not trying to protect a unique invention. They are trying to patent a camera angle! And they specify that they aren’t patenting only the straight-on view but want to leave it open to interpretation. In other words, if you film a yoga class with the camera anywhere in the room, you’re screwed. YogaGlo could come after you if they “interpret” that you have interfered with their patent. I never heard of anything so stupid. Oh wait, I have: Bikram’s attempt to patent his sequence.

  • mike

    The only way to stop this is to oppose the patent application directly to the patent office here http://www.uspto.gov/forms/aia_forms.jsp

    I trademarked my Yoga Studio name not so I can prevent people using it but to stop people from allowing ME to use it. I couldnt care less if someone used my name because I’M the asset, not my name. Wish Yogaglo would understand that.

    It all goes down to intention. Sadly the actions Yogaglo took against the Himilayan Institute says it all.

    It not hard to find a lawyer (especially in CA) who will convince their client that what they are doing is ‘just & ok’ & ‘protecting your assets’ & even warning Yogaglo that inevitably they might lose 10-15% of your subscriptions but gain an additional 30% of the ‘mass market’ of whom don’t care about the ethics of their decision to patent something they didn’t actually invent!

    Yogaglo has unwittingly signed up for years of litigation which is exactly what the lawyers want. I’ve seen this happen many many times & its only going to hurt them in the end I’m afraid.

    It’s not too late for Yogaglo to retract however sadly I think the damage is done. bummer because it was such a great site 🙁

    I wish all the teachers good luck.

  • mike
  • it’s simply a business strategy to edge out competitors. but like Mike mentioned, the damage is done on YogaGlo with its image. if (big IF) YogaGlo wins this patent, wouldn’t they be monopolizing the industry?

  • mike

    GOOD NEWS! you can oppose the patent directly with the Patent Office online here

  • arlet

    I can’t see this actually happening, but who knows?! It’s interesting to see Yoga Alliance stepping up. They seem to be getting their act together over the last year or two.

    it’s so challenging to be successful and fair AND a yogi while running a business. someone’s bound to get pissed! http://extendyoga.com/

  • This is the first I’ve seen of this. I honestly don’t think the patent will go through but never hurts to join the petition.

  • Semper Fi

    Firstly, those who do yoga via video will clearly not be able to receive the instruction needed to find precision in the asana.

    That being said, YogaGlo is violating the principle of Aparigraha (non-greediness) by trying to “hoard” the idea of an obvious classroom setup.

    I have never heard of YogaGlo prior to this announcement, but I suspect practitioners of this style have not put in the years it takes to be considered a foremost instructor. Whether YogaGlo receives the patent is irrelevant, as true yoga has been practiced for thousands of years without this company and will last throughout humanity. Whereas, I predict that YogaGlo will not be around in the next few years due to non adherence to the Yamas and Niyamas.

    • Vision_Quest2

      Oh, they will be around. Think of all the former gym yoga customers who are trading up to THIS … either on their way to taking at a yoga studio; or as a final destination; in addition to those concurrently taking at a studio, who travel, or have crazy hours; or don’t have the $$/time budget to be able to receive all those adjustments, more personalized alignment cues (though these online videos do a damn good job at intuiting alignment problems, imho) and the occasional shaktipat …

  • Flood the channels with so many videos, YogaGlo simply can’t afford to pursue all the lawsuits. If spending money on lawyers is how they wish further their cause, let them. They’ll be bankrupt in a year.

  • Ed

    I will be thoroughly disappointed in the US patent office if this passes. YogaGlo should withdraw, but if they do not, it should not matter as this is not an invention and hopefully the patent office recognizes this and declines the application. Maybe a petition should be sent there as well. A special interest group I usually something most government offices do not want to deal with.

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