As you may have heard, YogaGlo recently received a patent for one very specific way to create yoga class videos for online streaming. Although we issued a statement containing the facts about this patent a few months ago, many yoga organizations, publications, blogs, teachers and students continue to share false and misleading information about what it all means. The misplaced disdain that has been directed toward us, our teachers, and parts of the yoga community is extremely unfortunate and has created fear within the yoga community.
It has been difficult for us to watch this situation unfold and we have been concerned by how quickly misinformation has spread across the Internet. We think it is important to set the record straight about a few things. We have incredible teachers at YogaGlo who share their life’s work, positively affecting the lives of students all over the world and it would be irresponsible of us to not protect the platform through which they deliver their teachings. We hope that you will take the time to read this post, which is an attempt by us to provide you with an explanation of what we patented and the reasons for doing so.
What Is the Patent Protecting?
The patent covers only one of many ways an online yoga-related company or individual teacher might create a class for online streaming. In fact, several elements need to be present in the same video for a class to be in conflict with our patent. Meaning, for the overwhelming majority of you, the patent will be completely irrelevant. Only a handful of companies in some of their classes have copied all of the critical elements in our patent.
The critical elements of the patent include:
- a line of sight corridor between the rear area of a class and the instructor in the front of the class;
- an image capturing device located in the rear area with an unobstructed view of the instructor, to provide a participatory view through the line of sight corridor;
- students in a class, facing the instructor, distributed across the classroom between the instructor position and the image capturing device wherein the students do not block the corridor.
Again, all of these elements must be present in the same video for our patent to be relevant.
It would be extremely unlikely that anyone would “accidentally” create a class this way. Many wonderful online yoga-related companies and individual teachers are thriving by offering online yoga classes that are developed in a different way, in their own style. Some people prefer their perspective to ours.
A Visual Representation of the Critical Patent Elements
Below are a few visual examples of what our patent protects. Note, there are many other ways companies and teachers can create yoga classes that do not look anything like YogaGlo’s classes:
Spreading False Statements
Many organizations and individuals have made and continue to make statements that over-generalize the nature of our patent, and thereby, misinform people about the contents and effect of our patent. These organizations and individuals have made the following false statements:
- YogaGlo has sued third parties for patent infringement, which is not true. We have not sued any company or individual for infringing our patent and always work towards amicably resolving any disputes.
- YogaGlo has patented the filming of all yoga classes from the back of the room or having the teacher in the front of the room, which is simply not true. All of the critical elements must be present (such as a line of sight corridor and the placement of the camera giving a participatory view). The majority of videos out there do not infringe. It’s not only about filming from the back of the class – that element alone would not infringe our patent.
- YogaGlo will now try to shut down any business or individual teacher that films a yoga class, which again is not true. There are many ways to film a class as evidenced by the many videos that currently exist that do not violate our patent.
- Any yoga teacher who tries to film and stream or post online will infringe this patent, which is not true. Given all of the critical elements that need to be present in a yoga video, it is our opinion that a company would have to knowingly and intentionally structure their classes in such a way to infringe the patent.
- YogaGlo is attempting to stifle competition by restricting its competitors’ abilities to distribute videos of yoga classes, which is not true. YogaGlo is only trying to protect its own style of videos; we do not intend to enforce the patent unless a third party has used all of the critical elements of the patent.
- YogaGlo is trying to patent yoga. This is, again, not true. Our patent is only enforceable if all of the critical elements are visually present in a video.
- That a film or documentary may violate the patent, which is not true. A video containing the critical elements would likely only be appropriate for a yoga video.
Why We Felt This Patent Was Necessary
We strongly believe there is a difference between observing a yoga class and feeling as if you are part of a yoga class. Our goal was to create a look and feel throughout the entire user experience that would come as close to replicating an in-studio or in-class feel as possible. After a lot of experimenting (and being told our idea was completely crazy), we settled on a specific format and design that we felt created the in-class experience for at-home users.
In fact, we were told that our filming perspective would never work, and that people practicing at home would not want to see people’s backs to the camera. Many felt it was strange that we were setting up a stationary camera without capturing several angles simultaneously. Experts suggested multiple cameras, dollies, special lighting, a different treatment of the audio and more, but we didn’t want any of that for the class experience. Ultimately, we decided that filming from this very unique perspective would give YogaGlo members the best possible in-class experience, along with high quality instruction, ultimately making it an inextricable part of our products and services.
As awareness of our site and class offerings grew, several yoga-related companies asked to meet with us. Several companies offered to buy us, invest, license our technology, or hire YogaGlo to film their classes. When we declined, a few grew unhappy with us. Some of these very same companies are now actively complaining about our patent, calling us bullies, and sharing false information to stoke fear within the yoga community.
A small portion of the yoga community has commented that to even pursue a patent is “un-yogic.” However, by protecting our company, we are bringing yoga under the basic standards of integrity that apply to businesses, and, in turn, creating more legitimacy for yoga rather than treating it as an outlier. Yoga should be included in the mainstream of our legal system – no special pleading, no extraordinary privileges; just everyone playing by the same rules of integrity. We chose to follow the standard and transparent legal process that exists for companies to protect their services.
It has been interesting to read comments about how what YogaGlo patented “has been done for years” and that the patent is an “obvious” improvement of existing filming perspectives when it was not obvious to anyone when we started and so many people early on told us that our approach would not succeed.
Spreading the Fear
The most troubling comments we have received during the past few months relate to the overwhelming hate that a subset of the yoga community has unleashed upon our teachers. If you disagree with our approach in this patent matter it is worth discussion and welcomed, but disagreeing with us should not equal swearing, making disparaging comments and threats of violence.
A lot of this type of behavior has stemmed from organizations and publications that have used incendiary and false statements to create a frenzy.
- Richard Karpel, President of Yoga Alliance, stated in September: “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.” In October, Mr. Karpel said, “This is an important policy issue for Yoga Alliance. If YogaGlo receives this patent, it could prevent other yoga instructors — including the yoga teachers and schools that are members of our organization — from distributing video recordings of yoga classes in a format they desire without first paying a licensing fee to YogaGlo.” Last week, Yoga International interviewed Mr. Karpel and noted: “At this time, Karpel doesn’t see huge implications for the community in general.” In our opinion, Mr. Karpel has significantly modified the tone of his statements. By commenting on our patent with the most inflammatory language first, only to soften that language over time, Mr. Karpel’s initial statements caused a frenzy within the yoga community. Ultimately, if Yoga Alliance “doesn’t see huge implications for the yoga community,” it is unclear why it has spent so much time commenting on the topic.
- Further, Richard Karpel, President of Yoga Alliance stated: “Yoga Alliance is committed to representing the yoga community’s interests in this matter by resisting YogaGlo’s intention to restrict its competitors’ ability to distribute video images of live yoga classes.” The use of the phrase “distribute video images of live yoga classes” is an over generalization. As we’ve outlined above, our patent addresses a specific way to create a yoga class and cannot possibly cover all “video images of live yoga classes,” nor was that our intention. In our opinion, this phrase is misleading and was designed to create fear among the Yoga Alliance members. Unfortunately, it has led to many quoting this false statement in social media.
- In addition, Richard Karpel, President of Yoga Alliance, stated: “The YogaGlo patent affects everyone and 99.9 percent of the yoga community is opposed to this patent.” As we’ve outlined above, instead of affecting “everyone” this patent only applies to a select few who we believe have intentionally copied our videos. To state that 99.9 percent of the yoga community is opposed to our patent is not only misleading, it is false. In our opinion, these inaccurate and overly broad generalizations, especially when being done in the name of protecting yoga teachers, is irresponsible.
- Yoga International has issued several misleading statements including the most recent one issued on December 11th that makes it appear as if YogaGlo required Yoga International to take down yoga classes. When we spoke with Yoga International in early September, we identified a small number of videos that we felt were very close to ours. Although we sent Yoga International a letter advising of our patent and requesting a conversation, we never asked that it immediately take down any of these videos. In fact, during a prior conversation with Yoga International, we said that if the patent were to issue, Yoga International could keep the videos on its website until it had a chance to re-film the classes using a different style. It’s misleading to issue a statement that suggests YogaGlo forced Yoga International to take down these classes when our last communication was to try and amicably resolve our concerns.
- An article was published with the title “YogaGlo Sues Mom & Pops” which was later changed to “YogaGlo Now You Can Go” only after it had been widely shared in social media, without acknowledging the misstatement or issuance of a retraction. As stated above, YogaGlo has not filed a lawsuit against anyone for infringing this patent.
While we will not share the long list of published misinformation about YogaGlo or the patent, we did want to share a few examples of comments that we felt were primarily made to stoke fear within the community. We encourage anyone concerned with this issue to carefully re-read the past statements about this and note the possible motives and rhetoric being used to create confusion and doubt where statements of fact could have allowed for an honest dialogue.
It is our hope in moving forward that this incident will help to create a clear understanding rather than serve as fuel for confusion.
Everyday we receive comments of how YogaGlo is touching and changing lives across the world. Our team does not take these messages for granted. They encourage and inspire us. Providing and protecting our service has been difficult at times but it is done with absolute integrity, with the goal of ensuring safe, quality yoga for everyone. We are grateful to all our YogaGlo members and the yoga community that have been supportive of our teachers and us.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. We hope it helps you understand our perspective and intentions.