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Update on YogaGlo Patent Fiasco: Can They Claim Ownership?

in YD News


There is an update to the YogaGlo patent fiasco and it comes by way of the increasingly outspoken and all growns up Yoga Alliance. You may recall YA made it their business to start an online petition (currently at over 13,000 signatures) calling for YogaGlo to withdraw their patent application, which was essentially requesting official ownership of special ““method and apparatus” of recording yoga classes which many of us thought was just outright absurdity. Apparently, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) kind of agreed.

According to a recent YA post by CEO Richard Karpel, YogaGlo has actually filed not one but two similar, almost identical patents and have already received notice that both “have been rejected as being unpatentable.” So YogaGlo was already told no dice before they sent Yoga International the cease and desist letter that ignited this firestorm.

Here’s what YA found out about the rejections:

In their rejection notices, the USPTO asserted that at the time of their “invention,” YogaGlo’s patent claims were obvious to individuals with ordinary skill in the art. The first application was rejected on July 3, 2013, and the rejection was based on a combination of a yoga patent application published in 2002 and later abandoned, and other “prior art” (the legal term for information available before a patent application is filed that can be used to invalidate a claim). The second application was rejected one month later, on Aug. 5, 2013, based on the same combination of factors.

Yoga Alliance also asserts that last week’s response and update from YogaGlo regarding the patents is misleading and inconsistent with what the patent application actually claims.

“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,” the YogaGlo team said on their website.

“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,” the post explained.

The September 25 update continues in an effort to clarify YogaGlo’s stance and reasoning behind the patent:

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.

But, YA sees this as an important policy issue, and something they’re against, whether the method is patentable or not.

If YogaGlo receives this patent, it could prevent other yoga instructors — including the yoga teachers and schools that are members of our organization — from distributing video recordings of yoga classes in a format they desire without first paying a licensing fee to YogaGlo.

But even if the claimed idea is patentable, Yoga Alliance would still be opposed to the application, for the same reason the yoga community erupted in anger when they heard about it: The idea of recording a yoga video in a classroom setting, no matter how specifically limited by the patent claims, is not what most of us think of as an “invention.” The fact that a company like YogaGlo could “own” that idea shocks the conscience.

Yeah, shock might be the right word for this whole thing. Then again…nope.

Meanwhile, other online yoga class providers are urging people to vote with their dollars, like Be More Yogic, who’s giving away a free month to yogis who mail in a copy of their YogaGlo cancellation, reports YogaCityNYC.




19 comments… add one
  • This is ridiculous that it’s even a discussion or “battle”. I have purchased many videos (i.e. Gurmukh’s baby yoga) that are just a class being videotaped. Streaming it is not a patent-worthy “idea”. There is nothing new and unique about video-steaming ANYTHING. I feel like the yoga community has gotten out of control. Too many egos are getting in the way of what yoga is all about.

  • If both applications were denied by August of this year, wouldn’t a cease and desist letter sent *after* the applications were denied be a lie or, in business and legal terms, fraudulent?

  • Seeri

    Have the Yogaglo teachers rebuked them? Disillusioned to see their self -interest is primary to the detriment of the larger yoga community.

  • YogaGlo needs a better lawyer.

    • Go Yoga Girl!!

      Hahaha maybe Monsantos lawyer!

      • Not Monsanto’s evil minions. Just a hard hitting Yogi trial lawyer like me.

  • Drew Taylor

    I don’t agree with what they are doing either, but honestly, they could actually copyright it… They went the wrong route. Patents are for inventions, or developing a new way of making something. This idea is not patentable. (Perhaps they could get a special patent called a design patent)

    However, copyrights are for art and design. They could copyright this. The idea is that if you create a brand off of a specific angle, mat orientation, color scheme, etc and someone else purposely copies it, they are trying to steal your mojo. They may be hoping to get sales because people think that it is related to your studio. Copyrighting it can protect your “art”.

    Again, I don’t agree with it, and I would never try to patent or copyright this, but if you are trying to build and protect a brand, it makes sense.

    • Vision_Quest2

      Service mark, trademark, or “marca registrada” – well, it even stinks in THAT language …

    • Mr. Taylor you are absolutely correct. How can you patent a video? Trademark or copyright would have avoided the problem and saved YogaGlo the headaches and bad will. They were either ill advised or went off half cocked. That said, I love YogaGlo’s vids.

  • Trish

    Not that anyone asked me, but my reaction is: “YogaGlo get over yourself.” Better yet, go to the movies this week (or even watch tv) and see if any basic camera techniques fit your definition: dolly shot? two shot? close up?

  • As a growing community organization dedicated to empowering yoga local, independent teachers and studios, I speak for my team at YogaSamplee when I say that the YogaGlo patent smacks not only of unbridled hubris but also flat out idiocy.

    YogaGlo’s primary concerns should include widening the audience for online yoga classes, which provide an essential tool in the modern yoga teacher’s toolbox.

    By attempting to restrict the production of yoga videos with these Cease & Desist letters, they’re discouraging teachers and studios from experimenting with video and making video even more of a complement to modern yogis’ practice.

    Video holds a powerful potential to connect teachers and students when factors of location and timing pre-empt them from coming together in person. As the leading online yoga video site (at least before this debacle), YogaGlo mainly stands to benefit from this growing trend.

    Alex Patriquin

  • I cancelled my subscription to YogaGlo because this whole patent business seemed really, really greedy to me.

    Their service is high quality, their revenue model is sound, they have great teachers, they’re really successful already. I loved the classes, the selection, the archive of stuff, the variety. But no. We’re done. Keep your focus on your own mat, YogaGlo — this patent business seems about denying other studios entry to this “market”. It’s mean-spirited and as it turns out it’s legally as well as morally indefensible.

  • Jill

    The idea that Yoga Alliance is “all grown up” and just looking out for the interests of teachers is ridiculous.

    1. They have partnership with YogaUOnline — if YogaGlo gets the patent, it would impact YogaUOnline’s business. YA has a vested interest in that.

    2. They aren’t protecting individual teachers; they are protecting their right to offer videos in the future.

    Their new partnership with 90 Monkeys is an interesting choice, given the 90 Monkeys owners seem tightly tied to YogaGlo. Surprising YA isn’t aware of that.

  • David

    Have you seen this. YogaGlo business plan chart, camera angle stuff…

    • VQ2

      Consider that link to NoYogaGlo shared … at my blogsite – millions strong worldwide… they include a bunch of video yoga freaks! And they’d even moreso, be potential (if not already) mavens of FitnessGlo (their spinoff site) …

      This is much more than just yoga … even if the tenets are unyogic …

      Why oh why hadn’t Kathy Smith ever patented the camera angles and chirons on her Ultimate Workout back in the day?

      Because she had class!

      [In all senses of the word …]

  • Sravan

    What YogaGlo says is like applying for a patent for a very simple and common thing. Alright.. I will plan to apply for a patent “the SPECIAL way everyone takes a breathe with their own nose or mouth” then… as if I INVENTED how to breathe !!?? And tomorrow someone else applies for something else… Just a bit of silly ideas but not at all any INVENTION or DISCOVERY or not even close to saying so. The standard for considering an application for a US patent is unimaginably worse. In fact the worst of all.

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