American Yoga Teachers Still Trying To Lock Up Yoga Moves With IP

from the make-it-stop dept

Back in 2004, we first noted the rather disturbing trend of US-based yoga instructors who were trying to franchise their operations trying to copyright or patent yoga moves and prevent competitors from teaching them. Over the years, the problem has gotten worse. Back in 2007, we noted that there were approximately 150 yoga-related copyrights, 134 patents on yoga accessories and 2,315 yoga trademarks — and the numbers have surely gone up since then. Last year, we noted that India was trying to put together a big database of yoga information, to try to make sure there was clear prior art to stop these instructors from locking up thousands of years of knowledge.

Reader Vidiot was the first of a few of you to point out that American Public Media’s Marketplace Morning Report has an update on this story, and it’s basically more of the same. American-based yoga instructors are still trying to lock up various yoga moves… and the Indian government is still rushing trying to block them. Unfortunately, it seems like things haven’t really changed much, though I’m guessing that the article is wrong in saying that it’s yoga “moves” that are being patented. In the past we noted that instructors were trying to copyright the moves, but patent certain accessories. Either way, it seems ridiculous that any basic yoga moves should be restricted at all — with or without prior art. How you move your body certainly should not be subject to intellectual property protections, and it’s sad that the Indian government needs to get involved at all.

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Comments on “American Yoga Teachers Still Trying To Lock Up Yoga Moves With IP”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Applied to similar mediums

I don’t have any details at hand, but there was (still is?) a rumble over the attempted trademarking of the term Krav Maga, who owns it, who wants you to pay to use it, yadda yadda. More to do with the names of training facilities than the moves, I think.

According to this lame google fu, the requests were rejected in the US:

Danny says:

Re: Re:

Just what I was thinking. Yeah apparently the concept and practice of yoga, which has not only survived but thrived in the last several who knows how long, will suddenly not be able to survive without copyright.

I mean without copyrights and patents what are the companies that make those yoga mats gonna to do survive!?!?!?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Hmmm…I don’t think that sounds right is more like “I don’t know if anyone have copyrighted this and I can’t find out because there is no database to look into it so I should not do it because I can be liable for a lot of money if someone get out of the woods with a valid copyright”

buckaroo banzai says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Just to counter some of the more absurd doomsday scenarios posted thus far, remeber that copyright only protects against copying. Unless you see their moves and copy them, there’s no issue to begin with.”

“Wrongo – buckeroo”

“Please, enlighten us all on how you can have copyright infringement without copying.”

– Your mistake is thinking logically … fact is, you will be threatened regardless of whether you actually copied anything at all. When the extortionists say you infringe, they send out letters, and you suffer.

Red Monkey (profile) says:

yoga moves are not subject of copyright

Yoga moves themselves are not copyrightable anymore than dance steps (as opposed to a choreography chart) are. They do not fall into one of the categories in s.102 of the copyright act and they are not embodied in a tangible medium. If you do the moves, you are not copying because you have not set anything down in a tangible medium.

So if anyone tries to assert a copyright on a yoga move, just say “go ahead and sue me”. You will make out like a bandit on Rule 11 penalties.

Yogi says:


Anyone trying to patent yoga is so misunderstanding the entire point of yoga that they should be out of business already.

Makes me wonder if human culture would have been at all possible if copyright had existed from the beginning of history – can you imagine : writing would not spread, musical instruments, numbers – we would still be living in caves…or not – perhaps they would have been patented too…

Stephen says:

patents in India

India’s been doing the same thing to protect traditional medicines from patents:

And here’s a great story on patents having to actually mean something in India, whereas in the US you could “patent a piece of toilet paper.”

RMA (profile) says:


Yoga – Like other martial arts belongs to no one person … nobody should be able to “copyright” or “trademark” this move or that move. Truly talented instructors will always have a following of dedicated students regardless if they own the “copyright” or “trademark” to the moves or not.

~ Andrew ~
~ Russian Martial Art Richmond ~
~ ~

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