The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has approved a patent for a “Method and apparatus for yoga class imaging and streaming” (U.S. Patent No. 8,605,152).
According to the abstract:
The ability to view and participate in various types of instructional classes, including Yoga, remotely and on-demand has become increasingly popular and accessible. However, participating in instructional classes off-site does not replicate the same experience as participating in an instructional class on-site, live with an instructor. The claimed system and method allow the viewer participant to view and take part in an instructional class from any location and at any time without compromising the viewer’s ability to experience a participatory class experience. The system and method place the instructor at the head of the classroom with live-participants arranged between the instructor and the camera with a direct line of sight between the camera and the instructor allowing for the viewer participant to have unobstructed views while simultaneously allowing for the viewer participant to have live participants in the periphery, as if the viewer was attending a live class.
The patent includes claims like:
- A system for automatically producing a video representation of a yoga class configured so a remote viewer enjoys the experience of being in a real yoga class… and
- A method for automatically producing a video representation of a yoga class configured so a remote viewer enjoys the experience of being in a real yoga class…
The patent also includes claims for streaming the video over the internet, adding music to the audio, and placing the instructor’s mat in the instructor’s position and a student mat in each student position.
Thus, yoga studios that record their classes may find themselves subject to patent infringement suits by the patent’s owner, a company called YogaGlo.
A group called the Yoga Alliance has been tracking the patent application, noting that YogaGlo’s two almost-identical patent applications were rejected.
YogaGlo revised its claims to expressly note that the camera used to record classes must “provide a participatory view from a height of about three feet,” with “participatory view” defined as “a view observed by a participant in the rear of the class.”
The revised application was approved.
However, the Yoga Alliance claims that YogaGlo was using its now-patented method more than one year before it applied for its patent, which would make the patent unenforceable if challenged. It will be interesting to see how this patent stands up.