Last year, online yoga video publisher, YogaGlo, successfully patented their method of filming a yoga class. They subsequently went after long established educational websites—Yoga International and several others—to attempt to enforce their “unique” approach. They may now be realizing that not all press is good press as they have dropped the patent just days before the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was poised to announce YogaGlo as recipient of “Stupid Patent of the Month” award from them.
The patent claimed that filming a yoga class with a teacher in front, a “line of sight corridor” and “an image capturing device” placed at a “height of about three feet” was their revolutionary creative invention. Basically, they said they invented the classroom set up and filming at waist height; therefore no one else should ever be able to use this layout when recording a yoga class.
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Since this patent had already been granted, anyone filming a yoga class would have to avoid having an aisle, avoid having the teacher in the front of the students, and make sure the camera was above or below three feet. Imagine trying to do yoga filmed from a bird’s eye view, or from an actual cobra’s eye view.
EFF, an organization dedicated to defending online civil liberties, points out that not only was YogaGlo’s method of filming yoga classes not unique in its set up or film style, it wasn’t even new to them. EFF believes the patent to have been issued in error due to a lack of diligence in the patent office. YogaGlo had been publishing courses with the set up in question for over a year, which should have immediately invalidated their application. Patents must be filed within one year of releasing the idea to the public, and the date of first release must be disclosed on the patent application. YogaGlo however, did not disclose their prior use of the method, and the patent office didn’t check. If the patent office had dug even slightly deeper, they would have likely found videos all over the internet with similar set ups, as evidenced by Yoga International (YI) being forced into taking some of theirs down.
YI removed several videos from their website in response to communication from YogaGlo that they would pursue enforcing their flimsily held rights. Last month YI announced that their videos are back online, and implied that YogaGlo was aware of their upcoming dubious honor. Though YogaGlo chose to drop the patent just days before it was announced to the public, EFF still gave them the honor.
Since the beginning of this controversy, the yoga community at large has spoke out against the YogaGlo patent. In a world where yoga is increasingly treated as a pricy, trademarked commodity, people have clearly seen through this weak attempt to corner the online yoga-video market.