Earlier this week, Yoga International announced that it had received a cease-and-desist letter demanding that it discontinue the practice of providing online yoga instruction utilizing a visual recording of a standard yoga classroom set-up. It was later revealed that the company that sent the cease-and-desist letter was YogaGlo, which is in the business of offering online yoga classes.
YogaGlo CEO Derik Mills responded with a blog post claiming that his company filed an application for a patent and issued the cease-and-desist letter in order "to protect (our) intellectual property, just like any other online business." According to YogaGlo's patent application, the "invention" they claim to own is the method of recording a yoga instructional video in a live classroom setting. In other words, YogaGlo believes that the idea of videotaping a yoga teacher instructing a class of students, instead of simply recording the teacher, is their unique invention:
"The system and method place the instructor at the head of the classroom with live-participants arranged between the instructor and the camera with a direct line of sight between the camera and the instructor allowing for the viewer participant to have unobstructed views while simultaneously allowing for the viewer participant to have live participants in the periphery, as if the viewer was attending a live class."
Here is another paragraph from the application:
"[V]iewing a class [in which a yoga instructor doesn't share the same physical space with other students] can be detrimental to the participant watching the video because at a subconscious level the participant realizes that he or she is not truly a member of the class and that the exercise routines are being conducted without truly including the participant."
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 (RYT®s) and Registered Yoga Schools (RYS®s), 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.
"Yoga Alliance's Statement on YogaGlo Patent Forfeiture" - October 31, 2014
YogaGlo's most recent update states they “are not seeking another patent.” This is great news for the yoga community and for yoga practitioners everywhere because it means that individuals and organizations are now free to use any system and method of recording a live yoga class...
"YogaGlo Patent Issues Today, But is it Enforceable?" - December 10, 2013
Over the last two months, we have been monitoring YogaGlo’s quest for a patent that would prevent competitors from recording online yoga trainings in a particular classroom setting without paying YogaGlo licensing fees...
"An Update on YogaGlo's Patent Application" - October 11, 2013
We now have over 13,000 signatures on our online petition urging YogaGlo to withdraw the patent application it filed claiming ownership over a particular “method and apparatus” of recording yoga classes...