Yoga pose sequence isn't eligible for copyright; court rules

Protecting intellectual property is important to many businesses and professionals. A recent ruling handed down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals noted that a series of yoga moves isn't a protectable idea. The case stems from the claim that a series of yoga moves and breathing exercises dubbed "the Sequence" should be copyright protected.

The case began in 2002 when the yoga guru behind Bikram yoga asked that a sequence of 26 moves and two breathing exercises be protected by a copyright. The yoga practice, which is done in a room that is 105 degrees, is done in yoga studios that aren't operated or owned by the man.

The court ruled that a series of poses and breathing techniques is similar to a surgical procedure or cooking recipe, so it isn't something that can be protected. The court also denied that the series of moves to be copyrighted as a choreographic work or compilation.

The man was able to copyright a book on the Sequence and other aspects of the practice; however, the actual moves and order in which they are done isn't the same as a written book.

This case is an interesting reminder that works that are directed to a system, process, or idea aren't eligible for copyright protection. When you are seeking a copyright, you should understand the limitations placed on copyrighting so that you are aware of whether your intellectual property is suitable for protection. This might involve seeking out answers to your questions before you decide whether you are going to seek protection or not.

Source: IP Law Bulletin, "Yoga Pose Series Not Copyrightable According to the Ninth Circuit," John J. Penny and Taylor M. Coon, Oct. 20, 2015

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