Saturday, June 09, 2007

Update: India To 'Bling-Bling': You Blow

File under: Gurus Clockin' Dollars and The Siddhi of PR

The Indian government has taken up the cause against frivolous patents as they pertain to yoga and Hindu-based health and spiritual practices. First up, Bikram "Bling-Bling" Choudhury's attempts to patent yoga in a steam room:
The latest uproar over the patent issue arose after US-based yoga guru Bikram Choudhury applied for a patent for yoga practised in a steam room.

Most of the yoga patents in the US have been obtained by people of Indian origin. “This is the saddest part,” said the Health Ministry official.
Never one to shirk from a publicity opportunity, the rancorous Swami Ramdev takes time to chime in:
Guru Ramdev, one of India’s most popular yoga practitioners who specializes in mass yoga classes, termed the patents “absurd.”

He said he had requested the government to take up the matter some time back. “The West is noticing the worldwide drift towards yoga. Soon, all countries will take it upon themselves to grab patent rights of heritages like yoga and ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine),” he said.

Nobody could patent yoga or pranayama (a set of breathing exercises combined with meditation). “They are a part of our heritage. To patent them is an act of fraud,” he said.
We'd not be surprised if Ramdev had already tried to go the patent route and failed.

Update: The U.S. patent office has gotten back to India. The verdict: no yoga patents have been issued:
Officials in the Health Ministry’s Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), which was at the forefront of the move to lodge a complaint, said they were happy that the US government had gone through this verification and clarified matters. However, they added, they would continue to examine some patents, copyrights and trademarks that they are suspicious about, and would raise the issue with the US government if required.

The ancient Indian spiritual system of yoga has become a fitness fad in the US, espoused by many celebrities. It is a $3 billion a year industry, prompting many like the Indian-born fitness guru Bikram Chaudhury to apply for patents on yoga postures and yoga-related contraptions.
But to Bling-Bling: You still blow.

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