Tuesday, June 07, 2005
NEW DELHI: India's more than 4,000 year-old yoga traditions may
witness some high-octane trade disputes sometime from now, business
daily Economic Times has reported.
The Union government is building its muscles to bust the market
monopolies on yoga that Western practitioners have been securing
through copyrights, trademarks and patents. Yoga is a flourishing $27
billion-a-year business in the U.S.
To start with, the government is making a digital database of 1,500
yoga postures and their therapeutic properties that can be used to
overthrow the 134 patents on yoga accessories, 150 yoga-related
copyrights and 2,315 yoga trademarks the U.S. Patent Office has
granted so far, sources said.
This database, comprising body-cleansing practices, breathing
exercises, yoga symbols called mudras, postures and special practices
such as floating in water, will be digitally documented in five major
international languages so that it can be shared with prominent
patent offices around the world, the report said.
This is to prevent the grant of trademarks, copyrights and patents on
yoga in the future. The database would also help avoid costly
litigation to reverse the rights already granted. To reverse them,
India has to move the World Intellectual Property Organization
The National Institute of Science Communication and Information
Resources (NISCIR), under the science and technology ministry is
developing this nearly ten million page digital database for the
Department of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Sidha and
Homoeopathy under the health ministry.
Many of these rights have been secured by non-resident Indians like
Bikram Chowdhury, who used a copyright on his book in which he
described his sequence of yoga postures to prevent others from
teaching them, although the postures themselves were not under any
form of protection.
He got protection for a sequence of 26 postures called `asanas' to be
performed at a particular atmospheric temperature. While the postures
are straight out of India's tradition, the temperature requirement,
the ambience and accessories such as the mat spread on the floor are
his own, as justifications for the protection, an official source
The government now fears that someone may get market monopoly for the
Buddhist way of meditation called `vipassana' and transcendental
meditation taught by UP-based Maharshi Vedic University. There is
another problem the government is facing now, with no easy solution
in sight. "There are instances where people have been registering
yoga-related domain names only for selling them later at a huge
profit," the official said, the report added.