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YogaGlo Online Yoga Class Patent Gets Approved, What’s Next?

in YD News

yogaglo-patent-fig1Many of you will remember the YogaGlo patent fiasco of yesteryore. Actually, it wasn’t really so long ago. At the end of September, we heard that online yoga class service YogaGlo had sent cease and desist letters to various other online yoga websites, including Yoga International, who broke their silence about it online. The letters served as a warning due to a pending patent application YogaGlo submitted that would provide them ownership over a specific camera angle and classroom setup for their online yoga videos. Meaning, no one else could use this setup without YogaGlo permission or paying comeuppance.

Confusion, frustration and fiasco-ness ensued. Besides the public outcry and general distaste for anything combining “yoga” and “patent,” many customers were moved to go ahead and cancel their YogaGlo account. Yoga Alliance got involved and started a petition urging YogaGlo to see the error of their ways and voluntarily withdraw the patent applications because it could cause problems for yoga teachers and studios wanting to distribute their own videos and “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.” Though the petition received over 14,000 signatures, the patent process continued and on October 29, the patent was approved.

So here we are. What does this mean? Yoga International has already taken preliminary steps to avoid more trouble just in case the patent is enforced (which we don’t really know yet due to the “prior art” clause and timing of the “invention.”) Even so, YI has already removed 14 of their online classes and is offering the rest of them for free/by-donation while things get sorted out.

YI’s Executive Director Todd Wolfenberg stated in an open letter to YogaGlo posted December 11:

It is unclear to us from the final patent language as to whether these classes infringe in any way, but as a non-profit organization we neither have the financial resources available to undertake a legal dispute, nor do we wish to lose focus on our mission to bring yoga into the world.

…As you consider your options going forward, we sincerely hope that you join us in our effort to make yoga and its distribution more accessible to everyone.

Yoga Alliance, who broke the news that the patent was indeed approved, is still sniffing out the case. YA Richard Karpel released a statement questioning the enforceability of the patent:

Under U.S. patent laws, applicants must apply for a patent within one year after they initially use their invention in the normal course of business. 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.

It’s hard to say what happens next exactly, and really, it’s YogaGlo’s move. So far they’ve remained silent regarding recent developments and have yet responded to Yoga International’s request for comment.

To learn more we encourage you to read these posts from Yoga International and Yoga Alliance:

Open Letter to YogaGlo - YI

YogaGlo Patent Issued - YI

YogaGlo Patent Issues Today, But is it Enforceable? - YA

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9 comments… add one

  • What is dangerous about this precedent is that if someone can patent a wide angle shot, what’s to stop them from patenting every little other detail in yoga. I am grateful that this is a crappy setup for actual teaching (versus making a yoga video). The best thing you can do now is boycott and raise awareness via social media. That’s how Chip got booted.

  • YogaGlo Lululemon

    Lululemon YogaGlo

    these unknowing yoga things

    have got to go, no?

  • Lululemon’s stock dropped 11% today. Maybe there is hope.

  • How is that an invention to warrant a patent? Just utterly ridiculous, why do people continue to support these “yoga” sites? Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  • Doug

    YogaGlo should be boycotted not only by students (until YogaGlo voluntarily releases its claim to the patent) but by teachers presenting or considering presenting on YogaGlo as well.

    Teachers, while they may be making good money from YogaGlo (I really don’t know), are being shortsighted.

    YogaGlo is essentially asserting a monopoly which will seriously inhibit the freedom of teachers in the future. It’s analogous to Mercedes suddenly asserting a patent on key aspects of the wheel (stipulation: it should be round, which is what makes Mercedes cars so fuel-efficient, and is the key feature to what makes Mercedes cars so great). Never mind the fact that the wheel was being used before the patent: we own it now.

    This is a move worthy of Monsanto, and it benefits no one but the suits at YogaGlo.

    This is the point: the patent does not benefit the students who come to YogaGlo; it does not work in the interest of teachers presenting there, has nothing to do with the content of their teaching and does not protect the content of their offering in any way, and will tie them to YogaGlo’s business model in the future, for lack of alternatives (we all know how that goes). And in general it does not protect the integrity of yoga itself, or of any intellectual product connected with yoga.

    It lines the pockets of the suits, while throwing some crumbs to the teachers.

    In other news, please note that Lululemon’s CEO just stepped down because their customers wouldn’t put up with him or his business practices any more. Change does happen.

  • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet

    If Yoga Alliance really wanted to make a stand on this, they’d give students the information to boycott the teachers that represent YogaGlow.

  • susan

    YA and YI have their own hidden agendas here…I have spoken to several respected teachers at Yoga GLo….interesting that most of the HATE came from these 2 sources. More to come..

  • Seriously?

    So criticism = “HATE”?

    YA is attempting to represent the interests of teachers. No surprise that they should present criticism of policies that affect teachers. That is supposedly part of what they do. YI cannot afford to fight the litigiousness of YogaGlow, and so they had to pull 14 videos to reshoot them, just to protect themselves. So it is understandable that they would be critical too. Is this “HATE” or justified pushback against a harmful and questionable patent?

    How do these interests constitute a “hidden agenda?”

    Where do the teachers at YogaGlow stand on this? And why are they silent? And why would they support such a patent which limits their future opportunities and options for online teaching? Is there any irony in the fact that the majority of them are ex-Anusara teachers?

  • S.

    Nothing says “hate” like a cease and desist letter.

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