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A Yoga Studio’s Weird Patent Request

Recently, the community of yoga enthusiasts and followers broke out into an uproar. The reason for the digression is due to YogaGlo’s letters it has sent out about a new patent to protect their online fitness classes. The patent involves the “method and technique” used to film yoga classes. In other words, the patent protects the company from individuals placing their cameras in this location:

The teacher is in the middle, and student are on the sided of the camera.  U.S. Patent No. 8,605,152 is claimed to cover the “methods and apparatus for yoga class imaging and streaming”. Other claims include: the device for image capturing can’t be at about 3 feet in height, “a studio having a front area and a rear area”, and “a line of sight corridor”.

But why would they want to patent a camera position? YogaGlo argues that their patent is to protect the “look and feel” of their online videos. YogaGlo says their videos make you “feel” as if you are in the studio with them even from home. They said they were simply trying to protect their trademark and copyright interests. Also, YogaGlo has already filed for the same patent twice in July and August of this year, but was rejected both times. Finally, the USPTO granted them their patent.   According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), this patent should not be in place for multiple reasons. For one, their claims are extravagant in the sense that hundreds of yoga instructors record their classes in this manner & similar setup. It is one of the easiest ways to film and instructor as well as other members of the class who may be showing alternative moves. Even an online petition was created to have the patent dropped by YogaGlo.   In addition, our patent system is not designed to protect the “look and feel” of things. There has been a growing emphasis on claiming intellectual property rights in this culture. In just 2013 alone, there were over 609,000 patent applications sent to the USPTO compared to 1963, which had 90,000. It makes sense why YogaGlo would feel a need to protect their videos from being copied.   In a final battle for their patent & the determination of the yoga community, YogaGlo has decided to drop the case, but they still defend the “atmosphere” of their videos, and still believe there is a valid trademark or copyright interest to protect their business.

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