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Yoga Lawyers Attain Enlightenment
The lawyers who got all twisted up over ownership rights to a series
of yoga positions can relax: They have a settlement, avoiding an
Open Source Yoga Unity, a nonprofit collective of yoga teachers, had
sued well-known practitioner Bikram Choudhury after Choudhury sent
cease-and-desist letters to yoga studios that he believes were
ripping off his intellectual property.
Choudhury is the most recognizable proponent of so-called "hot" yoga,
also known as Bikram yoga. He has registered a copyright for a
sequence of 26 asanas, or poses, to be performed in a heated room.
(Most yoga is unheated.)
Choudhury says other teachers have stolen his techniques and wants
them to stop using his name and his sequence unless he gives
Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero led settlement talks Tuesday. The
details are confidential, according to Michael Page of Keker & Van
Nest, who represented Open Source.
"We have reached a mutually satisfactory resolution and we look
forward to working together in the future to continue bringing the
benefits of yoga to the world," Page said.
Susan Hollander, a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips who
represents Choudhury, said she was pleased with the settlement.
The case appeared headed for trial last month, when U.S. District
Judge Phyllis Hamilton ruled on summary judgment motions. Although it
was a mixed ruling, Hamilton leaned in favor of Choudhury, saying
Open Source had not provided persuasive authority that a compilation
of yoga asanas cannot be protected under the copyright laws in the
same manner as other compilations.
The case is Open Source Yoga Unity v. Bikram Choudhury, 03-3182.