India Actively Sharing Knowledge Base Around The World To Stop Bogus Patents

from the good-for-them dept

Developing nations such as India and Brazil have been seriously hurt by patent regimes that have often allowed big multinational conglomerates to take traditional medicines, patent them, sell the drugs back to the country at greatly inflated prices... and then try to stop all traditional local use as "infringing." It looks like India is working hard to put a stop to such practices. Against Monopoly points us to the news that the Indian government has been putting together a database of traditional Indian medicine and actively sharing it around the world in the hopes that it can serve as prior art against such patents in the future. This has even gone so far as to have a bunch of yoga experts to try to stop the rather insane trend of applying intellectual property (including patents, copyright and trademark) to traditional yoga.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 4:26pm

    Good for them.

     

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  2.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 4:40pm

    What yoga patents?

    Can someone point me to a patent on Yoga?

     

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  3.  
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    B, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 5:08pm

    Re: What yoga patents?

    Come on now... it would have taken you less time to type "Yoga Patent" into Google and get your answer.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=Yoga+Patent

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 5:14pm

    Re: What yoga patents?

    You will certainly find patents for things such as yoga mats, but as for yoga itself...no.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 6:09pm

    Re: Re: What yoga patents?

    really?
    did you look?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 7:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: What yoga patents?

    Did I look? Yes, and noted 205 patents...none of which I daresay can reasonably be viewed as covering the historical practice of yoga. Lots of mats. Lots of other stuff. But no yoga, per se.

     

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  7.  
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    Nick (profile), Feb 24th, 2009 @ 8:09pm

    First, The West plunders your people: rape, pillage, and genocide.

    Then, The West plunders your labor: slavery and serfdom.

    Then The West plunders your land: colonization.

    Next, The West plunders your ideas, culture, physics, biology and mathematics: patents and copyright.

    The future of freedom is depending on you, BRIC nations, to defy WIPO and any other international IP treaties, as it is the next attempt to enslave us all.

     

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  8.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 8:12pm

    Re: Re: What yoga patents?

    I already did this and guess what? No yoga patents. In fact, it appears that the only entity trying to patent yoga positions is India, though I was unable to find a single yoga position or technique patent in the United States.

    I ask again, who can show me a patent for a yoga position or technique in the United States? Remember, the supposed furor is over people patenting ancient yoga positions in the United States and other countries. Show me one patent where there is an independent claim (as opposed to dependent claims) for a yoga position or technique.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 8:29pm

    This Just In - Further Claification

    - in the United States -

     

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  10.  
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    Jesse, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 9:18pm

    Lonnie: you are building a bit of a straw man, n'est-ce pas? Even if there are no yoga patents "in the USA," does it change anything? You are, I think, trying to say that if this has not happened with yoga in the US, then this article is flawed and thus has no valid point.

    It seems that you are a supporter of patents. Techdirt and most of its readership are likely not. The authors of Techdirt have outlined the problems with patents, as well as proposed solutions. I therefore think the onus should be on you to demonstrate that this sort of abuse of patents can't/doesn't happen, and failing that, then let us hear some proposed solutions. I think unless you can do that, you aren't going to find much support around here.

     

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  11.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 24th, 2009 @ 10:28pm

    Re: What yoga patents?

    Hmm. I don't believe I ever said they were "patenting yoga." I said: "150 yoga-related copyrights, 134 patents on yoga accessories and 2,315 yoga trademarks."

    But, that was in the old article. In this particular article, we were talking about a variety of different Indian medicines *and* yoga-related issues that India is trying to put into the public domain to prevent patenting.

     

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  12.  
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    eleete, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 11:03pm

    Re:

    WOW, Jesse ur on top of ur game. Well said, and right to the heart of Lonnie and their kind. Lonnie ??? Your turn. Go for it.

     

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  13.  
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    yogi, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 1:18am

    Disgusting

    How low does a person have to be in order to patent traditional medicinal knowledge of a completely different culture?

    That's about as disgustingly greedy and inhuman as you can get.

     

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  14.  
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    Ima Fish, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 5:24am

    I have no problem with what India is doing, I suppose. But essentially India wants it both ways. It wants to be a part of the WTO and partake in such advantages. However, India doesn't like the part of the WTO where it has to respect IP rights of other countries.

    The truly bold move for India would be to tell the WTO to take a flying leap. But that's not going to happen.

     

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  15.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 5:56am

    Re: Re: What yoga patents?

    Mike:

    Your statement:

    This has even gone so far as to have a bunch of yoga experts to try to stop the rather insane trend of applying intellectual property (including patents, copyright and trademark) to traditional yoga.

    Seems to me that when you say "...apply intellectual property (including patents...) to traditional yoga," that you were saying that someone was either getting or trying to get a patent on traditional yoga. My question was real. I just wanted to see a patent on traditional yoga.

     

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  16.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 6:00am

    Re:

    Jesse:

    This started as a simple question. Mike said:

    This has even gone so far as to have a bunch of yoga experts to try to stop the rather insane trend of applying intellectual property (including patents...) to traditional yoga.

    I asked a simple question, can anyone point me to a patent on traditional yoga? In the meantime, there are all sorts of silly (just type "yoga" and "patent" into Google - duh, ya think?) and indignant (SEE, SEE, the patent system is BROKEN, oh yeah, more PROOF) comments, based on the patents on traditional yoga.

    So, I ask again what should be a simple to answer question, can someone show me a patent on traditional yoga?

     

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  17.  
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    Etch, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 9:53am

    Funny lawsuit in Egypt

    The City of Luxor in Egypt is an historical landmark, it contains the most ancient Egyptian tombs and temples of any location in the world.

    Ever heard of Luxor the Casino in Las Vegas? well they tried suing local Egyptian merchants living IN Luxor for using the name "Luxor" on their storefronts.

    If that is not insanity, I don't know what is!

    Suffice to say, its hard enough to sue someone for copyright infringement in Egypt as is, so these lawsuits for the Luxor name brought nothing more than a good laugh and subsequently got thrown in the trash

     

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  18.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 25th, 2009 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re:

    So, I ask again what should be a simple to answer question, can someone show me a patent on traditional yoga?

    As was made clear (I'm not sure why you keep asking) the patent was on traditional yoga *accessories*. It was copyright and trademark that was used for yoga moves themselves.

    That's quite clear from the context. Apparently to everyone except you.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    One cannot copyright a "yoga move" simply because it does not meet the definition of a work eligible for copyright; e.g., it does not meet the requirement of "fixation".

    The trademarks do nothing to keep people from practicing yoga and wrapping themselves up into pretzels. All they do is serve as source identifiers for specific products and/or services. The trademark "Kentucky Fried Chicken" imposes no limitation on anyone who wants to fry chicken. It only imposes limitations on those who want to market a product and/or service using a name/phrase/trademark/service mark that is likely to cause confusion among consumers.

     

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  20.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 25th, 2009 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    One cannot copyright a "yoga move" simply because it does not meet the definition of a work eligible for copyright; e.g., it does not meet the requirement of "fixation".

    Tell that to Bikram Choudhary.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The individual's copyright registrations are for books and tapes. Books and tapes are "fixed" and copyrightable, whereas a mere "pose" (as this article might lead some to believe) is not.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    For those who may have an interest, the USPTO website permits online searching of both patents and trademarks, and the Copyright Office website permits online searching of copyright registrations.

    In the case of patents, search results yield issued patents generally pertaining to yoga "stuff".

    In the case of trademarks, search results yield many uses of "yoga" in a company name, in association with the sale of "stuff", etc.

    In the case of copyrights, search results yield registrations for many books, videos, audio tapes, etc.

    None of these, however, inhibit in any way the practice of twisting oneself into odd body orientations, whether traditional or contemporary.

     

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  23.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 25th, 2009 @ 4:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The individual's copyright registrations are for books and tapes. Books and tapes are "fixed" and copyrightable, whereas a mere "pose" (as this article might lead some to believe) is not.

    That's not what he's claiming in court, you realize. And he's touting his various "victories" over the poses themselves.

    But, you know that... and are just misleading everyone on purpose, I assume.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 4:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's not what he's claiming in court, you realize. And he's touting his various "victories" over the poses themselves.

    But, you know that... and are just misleading everyone on purpose, I assume.


    I have made no comment in this thread that merits this type of response. Moreover, I am unaware of any lawsuit that has proceeded to a trial on the merits and for which a judgement has been rendered by a trial court. To state that I am "misleading everyone on purpose" is to challenge my integrity concerning comments made in good faith.

    You say you use this forum for "conversation" and as a "learning tool". You would do well to keep these in mind before using your keyboard to cast unwarranted and untrue aspersions.

     

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  25.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Mike:

    I am glad that you cleared up that your original statement was imprecise. I will stop asking to see the famous "yoga patents."

     

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  26.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 25th, 2009 @ 6:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I have made no comment in this thread that merits this type of response

    You most certainly did. You presented misleading statements concerning the nature of the legal fights concerning yoga, and you did so purposely. To me, that deserves calling out as being dishonest. Of course, you did it in your typical pompous lawyer manner: choose your words carefully so you can make an obnoxious claim saying that you never said what you were OBVIOUSLY implying.

    It's really rather sickening.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 10:23pm

    Mr. Masnick,

    Since not a single one of my comments in this thread have mentioned or alluded to "legal fights", I am at a total loss to understand your stating that I have "purposely" presented "misleading statements" on the "nature of [these] legal fights". Quite frankly, it seems to me as if you have no interest in the statements/views/opinions/etc. of persons such a me that you apparently perceive as not fitting "on all fours" with the points contained in your recurring missives on the societal wrongs wrought by by Congressional legislation enacted pursuant to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution.

    A patent issues and you are the first to declare that it is "obvious" and/or "bogus", even though your educational background is not founded on the technological arts and you have not reviewed any of the relevant documents that serve to inform others about why a patent was granted over the cited prior art. A court, be it a district courst, an appellate court, or the Supreme Court, that issues a decision with which you disagree a fortiori means that the judge/judges involved are inept. A practitioner in the relevant law who dares contradict your "legal expertise" is automatically labeled an IP-apologist having a blatant conflict of interest that prevents them from talking objectively. At the tender age of 34 you are so convinced about the "rightness" of your opinions that you are loathe to consider other possibilites, or more nuanced analysis, offered by others who have been engaged in actively studying many of these issues since before you were even enrolled in kindergarten.

    Perhaps the most insightful and sage piece of advice I have ever received was given to me by my mentor at the time I embarked upon a career in law. It was for me to be sure "To never get drunk on your own wine." Based upon the anti-IP rhetoric that appears here with recurring frequency, I strongly urge that you take his advice to heart.

    Unlike you, I do not find your views/actions "sickening", nor do I associate you with "pomposity". Rather, I am disappointed that even sincere, good faith attempts to add to the "conversation" do not appear to receive even a modicum of a "fair hearing". Hopefully with age you will come to realize (as I have) that the opinions you view at this point in time as being "right and unassailable" are rarely so. Illustrating this point slightly differently, 1+1 does not always equal 2.

    Sincerely,

    MLS

     

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  28.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 26th, 2009 @ 12:51am

    Re:

    Since not a single one of my comments in this thread have mentioned or alluded to "legal fights", I am at a total loss to understand your stating that I have "purposely" presented "misleading statements" on the "nature of [these] legal fights".

    Heh. Very typical MLS statement... weasels around the truth. You stated: "One cannot copyright a "yoga move"" as if that were final. But, clearly, there are a few people who claim they have, in fact, copyrighted yoga moves and have used them in various legal fights. That's the problem that the Indian gov't is trying to address. You dismissed it as a problem by saying it was impossible to copyright -- but obviously that's not how it's being viewed in practice.

    Quite frankly, it seems to me as if you have no interest in the statements/views/opinions/etc. of persons such a me that you apparently perceive as not fitting "on all fours" with the points contained in your recurring missives on the societal wrongs wrought by by Congressional legislation enacted pursuant to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution.

    Not at all. I have tremendous interest in the statements/views/opinions etc. from people who don't agree with me. As I have stated repeatedly (and I'm not sure why you refuse to recognize this), my own position on these very topics has changed quite a bit over the years thanks in part to conversations and evidence presented here. But that doesn't mean I suddenly need to agree with you when you are so clearly wrong.

    You seem to think that because I disagree with you -- and do so with evidence -- that I am somehow not open minded. Perhaps it's simply you that is wrong? I have told you in the past that if you actually presented some evidence that supported your position then I am more than willing to be convinced.

    You have not done so.

    A patent issues and you are the first to declare that it is "obvious" and/or "bogus", even though your educational background is not founded on the technological arts and you have not reviewed any of the relevant documents that serve to inform others about why a patent was granted over the cited prior art.

    If there is ample evidence of obviousness then I will say so, including explaining why it is obvious. The fact that you think people need to be part of some special club to determine what is and what is not obvious seems to go against the very purpose of the patent system.

    A practitioner in the relevant law who dares contradict your "legal expertise" is automatically labeled an IP-apologist having a blatant conflict of interest that prevents them from talking objectively.

    I have never claimed to have "legal expertise." I'm not sure why you suggest I have. I am certainly familiar with many issues related to these legal issues, and work with a number of very smart IP laywers who I often run ideas and posts by first. But I don't -- and never have -- claimed that I have any specific legal expertise. However, I should note that there are numerous IP lawyers who have told me that they think I often have a much better grasp on the law than many practitioners.

    And it is incorrect and rather ridiculous to suggest that I automatically label IP-apologists as having conflicts of interest. That's not true at all. But if there is a conflict of interest what is wrong with pointing that out?

    At the tender age of 34 you are so convinced about the "rightness" of your opinions that you are loathe to consider other possibilites, or more nuanced analysis, offered by others who have been engaged in actively studying many of these issues since before you were even enrolled in kindergarten.

    This is not at all true -- and I have expressed this to you before. I am not at all convinced of the "rightness" of my opinions, but if you are going to present bogus points that have been debunked a thousand times over, I will point that out -- and when you continue to make those points, I may point out the silliness of your repeated infatuation with a myth.

    Second, I do discuss these issues quite regularly with IP lawyers. The idea that I don't "consider the possibilities" is ridiculous and insulting.

    You seem to assume that because I disagree with you -- and use evidence to back that up -- that I am not open minded. I'm sorry but that's wrong. What is true is that I will not be persuaded without good evidence. I was persuaded to the positions I hold today thanks to strong evidence. I have asked you for alternative evidence to support your position and you have not given it.

    Either way, it's quite ridiculous to pull out the "before you ever went to kindergarten" card. Gee that's so convincing. I get it. You've been immersed in this stuff for a long, long time. That doesn't make you automatically right. The fact that you are so consistently wrong and unwilling to present any evidence simply reinforces that to me.

    Based upon the anti-IP rhetoric that appears here with recurring frequency, I strongly urge that you take his advice to heart.

    Um. Wait. Based on the *evidence-based* and *fact-based* reasoning I present here -- which you have been unable to counter with anything more than "boy, listen to your elders" I'm supposed to suddenly change my opinions. What if the stuff I'm saying is *right*? You seem unwilling to consider that at all.

    For all your silly talk about my age compared to yours, has it occured to you that perhaps it's *you* who is so set in his ways that you are unwilling to open your mind to what the evidence presents?

    Unlike you, I do not find your views/actions "sickening"

    I don't find your views sickening. I find your repeated ways of presenting it sickening. And, furthermore, you have expressed similar sentiment in the past, once suggesting that I had no moral compass.

    But, as I have stated, what I find sickening is your repeated attempts to pretend that you have taken a moral high ground "merely to observe" by presenting some misleading statement as if it disproves anything we've said.

    You consistently use condescending language, designed to insult in both tone and substance. You are unwilling to engage in thoughtful discussion and have repeatedly taken potshots at posters here -- especially with regards to their morals or upbringing. Yet, at the same time, you seem unwilling to ever present anything remotely compelling in terms of evidence to support your positions.

    Rather, I am disappointed that even sincere, good faith attempts to add to the "conversation" do not appear to receive even a modicum of a "fair hearing"

    Oh please. I gave you plenty of fair hearing, and then you started insulting everyone who disagreed with you and repeating the same debunked nonsense. At that point is was obvious that it was you who were unwilling to engage in open conversation.

    Hopefully with age you will come to realize (as I have) that the opinions you view at this point in time as being "right and unassailable" are rarely so. Illustrating this point slightly differently, 1+1 does not always equal 2.

    Give it up. I'm not sure how many times I need to repeat this, but I am quite open to changing my opinion IF YOU PRESENTED A SHRED OF EVIDENCE.

    You have not. Instead, the evidence that is presented continues to support my positions. Until I have seen them disproved, it's difficult to see why I should accept your advanced age as proof of anything.

    Sincerely,

    MLS


    Well, I'll be. You learned to sign your name.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 9:05am

    But, clearly, there are a few people who claim they have, in fact, copyrighted yoga moves and have used them in various legal fights.

    I never even knew the "guy" whose name you mentioned even existed...but then again I am not into yoga. Wondering who he was I looked him up, noted he runs, inter alia, a "yoga training business"...what appears to some degree to mimic a franchise. Given the reference to "IP", I took a look at the online databases at the USPTO and the Register of Copyrights. None of those databases reflected any patent, trademark or copyright registration directed to anything other than yoga accessories, trademarks and service marks being purportedly used in association with the sale of goods/services. All copyright registrations were identified as being directed to either text or audiovisual goods. In other words, I saw nothing that could reasonably be considered as a hindrance to the practice of yoga by others, be it traditional or contemporary yoga.

    I also learned for the first time that some years ago this individual started trying to expand the scope of one of his copyright registrations to embrace the use by some of his former "students" of the specific sequence of "poses" (note: plural and not singular). Apparently these people got a bit miffed at his assertions and filed a declaratory judgement action seeking a court ruling that they were free to practice precisely what he was complaining about. He filed a motion with the court to have their lawsuit dismissed for failure to state a legal claim. He lost on this and other procedural motions. During arguments on the motions the court apparently noted that perhaps he might have a very, very "thin" claim on his specific "sequence of poses" comprising his "yoga method" as a "performance", but at best this was a long-shot. Interestingly, in the motion arguments it appears none of the plaintiffs mentioned the apparent absence of any registration of a copyright directed to a "performance". Also, importantly, it appears that his claim was based upon legal principles pre-dating enactment of the Copyright Act of 1976. Prior to that time federal law covered "published works" and states were able to afford state law protection for "unpublished works". Thus, the gravamen of his long-shot claim was based upon state copyright law in California, and did not appear to be based upon any federal copyright law under the Copyright Act of 1909. For procedural reasons the court did note that factual questions not ripe for resolution at the pleadings stage were presented in the pleadings, questions that would a trial to develop the facts and determine if the defendant could meet his burden of proof (regarding which the trial court expressed substantial doubt). A trial date was scheduled, but a trial was never held because the defendant and plaintiffs rendered it unnecessary by entering into a settlement agreement. I do not have access to that agreement, likely because virtually all such agreements are deemed confidential by the mutual assent of all parties involved in a pending lawsuit. Given the facts as alleged in the pleadings, the trial court's ruling on the motions, the scope of copyright under California law and the trial court's admonition to the defendant that his claim on the basis of copyright, while not impossible, was extremely thin (a nice way of saying by the court "Good luck in trying to prove your case because you are going to need it by pulling a rabbit out of a hat...and rabbits are in short supply). Based upon my experience before California courts, it seems quite clear to me that the court was not buying into the defendant's assertions, but by law was not able to dismiss them as a matter of law under the governing rules of civil procedure.

    Other than the one instance noted above, I am unaware, after perusing the PACER database, of any other attempts by the defendant to pursue legal actions. It seems that the defendant "got the message" and retrenched back to operating his "yoga business". Of course, this does not mean that he could have a change of heart, but at best the only likely claim he could raise in the future would be a breach of contract claim against former students of his yoga method. Others not a party to such a contract would most likely not be affected absent some type of proof that they openly encouraged one or more of his former students to breach their contracts. The likelihood of this happening is remote, bordering on virtually nil, though I cannot totally discount the fact that there may be "yoga" people out there who are not the brightest bulbs in a lamp.

    IF YOU PRESENTED A SHRED OF EVIDENCE.

    There are shreds of "evidence" all over the place if one only takes the time to look. Anti-Monopoly recently noted one such "shred". More relevant, however, is that all of the "shreds" for and against I find largely unconvinging simply because I have as yet to read any study that in my view relies upon a data set that I believe is relevant to the study. Petra Moser, who looked at an Exposition in the late 1800's, is but one example. Her assumption was basically that if a "thing" was important enough to exhibit, then it would seem to follow that it was also important enough to patent. This is a faulty premise. I have seen thousands of inventions that were manifestly important to a business, but for which applications were never filed for a myriad of reasons. Quite frankly, I am not at all even sure that across all industries it is possible to establish any "casuality" between important "stuff" and patents. Yes, sometimes patents are obtained, but more often than not they are not obtained. IP is nothing more than a set of "legal tools", some of which may be helpful at some point in the future and some of which have no applicability given a business's business plan for the short term and into the future.

    I have stated that the Levine/Boldrin book is likewise fraught with what I view as significant deficiencies in the data set initially chosen. Of course, it does help their case by their resort to hyperbole, making their book at times appear to be less than an economic analysis and more like a simple (albeit lengthy) rant. Moreover, much of their discussion about cases/situations dealing with a specific patent is full of factual errors, and it is difficult to accept their study as compelling evidence if they appear to have difficulty accurately articulating the facts.

    I could name more of the research you rely upon, but I am omitting it in the interest of brevity. Keep in mind, however, that I do not limit my views to merely the research conducted by those some would characterize as being Anti-IP. I have equal concerns with much of the Pro-IP research. In each instance I have noted that the researchers seem to have fallen prey to having a definite opinion one way or the other, and have then cherry-picked data in support of their opinion. Just once I would like to read a study where the initial data set I believe is relevant, study the data, and then let the data determine the ultimate conclusions drawn.

    As a final note, in another thread you asked me some questions concerning my views of the patent system. I gave your questions considerable thought, and then proceeded to provide answers as best I could. I am surprised that you appear to not as yet have read them. I urge you to do so and to feel free to ask for clarification on any points raised.

     

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