Patents Power up Yoga – Part II

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India may be considered the home of yoga practice. But did you know that India owns just 1% of the world’s patents in yoga accessories, while USA owns the highest of 30%? Our blogger showcases such interesting information on yoga in this blog.

In my previous blog, I discussed how yoga has become a billion dollar industry from the time it was popularized by celebrities in UK and the US in the 1960s and 70s. Around 1,000 patents and applications have been filed worldwide on different yoga accessories such as yoga mats, yoga balls, yoga towels, yoga bricks and straps, footwear, clothing, etc. Many patents are filed on different yoga accessories and devices which enable and support a yoga practitioner. Major research and progress has happened on yoga mats to make them multi-functional and Intelligent.

There are at least 939 patents and applications related to yoga accessories across the world. It is interesting to note that while India is considered the home for the origin of yoga practices, it is the United States of America that owns 30% of the world’s patents for yoga accessories. China comes a close second with 29%. India owns just about 10 patents which is just 1% of the total patents and applications filed across the world in this category.

Source: iRunway analysis

Source: iRunway analysis

There has been a sudden spike in the number of patents being filed for yoga accessories since the early 2000s, with a sharp increase in the last five years.

Source: iRunway analysis

Source: iRunway analysis

What’s hot to own

30% of the total patents were filed on different functionalities of mats that are skid-proof, multi-functional, sweat absorbing, intelligent… and the list goes on. 33% of the patents are related to accessories that support and enable yoga poses/exercises, posture correction devices and activity trackers. Then there are those popular yoga balls, blocks, bricks, straps, belts and headstanders. 6% of the patent portfolio is related to therapy for different diseases such as asthma and sinusitis that includes yoga as part of the exercise regimen. 4% of the patents are related to methods of filming classes, conducting yoga classes either real or virtual.

Source: iRunway analysis

Source: iRunway analysis

In the USA, companies such as Stick-E products, Manduka, Nike and Fitbit join hands as the key patentees for yoga accessories. Most patents filed in india are by individual inventors such as Ashim Ghosh. Yogaglo and Brodesigns have one patent each in India, while Manduka recently acquired Yogitoes.

Claiming rights to inventions

Inventions, patents and then litigations – they go hand-in-hand, with each trying to claim rights of their own. The U.S. patent landscape has been quite active with patent infringement contentions flying off in all directions in the yoga accessories space.

Lululemon: the infringer and the infringed

Heavy patenting activity in the yoga accessories space has resulted in an increase in litigation activity. In a recent development, Lululemon,

which had filed infringement contentions against Calvin Klein over its iconic yoga pants, settled the lawsuit. Lululemon had claimed that Calvin Klein copied the Astro waistband design elements for its Performance pants.

Lululemon’s patented waistband design consists of a series of angular fabric pieces that form a V-shaped waistline that can be rolled to sit lower on the waist. Calvin Klein’s pants also have a V-shaped waistline, but are priced lower than Lululemon.

In a twist to the Lululemon patent war, the Vancouver-based company was slapped with charges of infringing patent US 6961969 by LA-based Yogitoes LLC. Yogitoes claimed that its patented absorbent yoga towel included a liquid-absorbing base with projections that imporved anti-skid properties. The company claimed that Lululemon’s product The Towel Mat partially infringed on its patented technology.

Yogitoes, which was recently acquired by Manduka, is now seeking an injunction against patent infringement among several other compensation factors. From Baltimore-based Under Armour. The company has also requested for a jury trial.

Yoga teachers in patent war muddle

YogaGlo Inc. owns a patent (US 8605152) that speaks of a method of filming yoga classes from the back of a room, offering a complete view of the session. Even before its patent application was granted, YogaGlo started sending Cease & Desist letters to several companies that were involved in similar yoga class filming styles. This included the famous Yoga International too.

Yoga is the new fitness word

An increase in patent filings is a sure sign of a growing industry that is set to thrive for a long time to come. The yoga industry is all set to witness a boom phase, and the recent world-wide International Yoga Day celebration is testimony to this. With people across the world actively adopting this ancient exercising methodology, yoga accessories are likely to get more intelligent with every passing year. Are we then completing the yogic cycle from ancient to modern? Only time will tell.

(Featured image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jen-d/19415641174)

Divyateja Adapala
Divyateja Adapala

A marathoner who enjoys biking along the LA coastline, Divyateja's observant eye shows her what gives a miss to the common spectator. And you get to read about those interesting insights in her blog.


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