Strike a pose: Nothing IP to it

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Attempts to copyright yoga routines have thrown up issues of originality, ownership, traditional knowledge and choreography, writes Bisman Kaur at Remfry & Sagar

Proprietary claims over pranic healing techniques propagated by master Choa Kok Sui, an accomplished yoga practitioner, led his heirs and the Philippines-based Institute of Inner Studies to file a suit before Delhi High Court. An interim ruling was made recently which piqued the interest of many.

Books penned by the master as well as associated trade literature on pranic healing methods formed the first premise for claiming copyright. Additionally, copyright protection was sought for the sequence of exercises on the assertion that they were an outcome of tremendous skill, labour and judgment – ancient concepts had been distilled to invent complex and entirely novel yoga practices.

6If one looks to the Indian copyright statute, the definition of “literary works” explicitly includes compilations. Also, it is established law that even a fact-based telephone directory is a copyrightable compilation so long as the author exhibits originality and a minimal degree of creativity in the selection and arrangement of data. Expectedly, copyright claims in books featuring a selection of yoga asanas were upheld.

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Bisman Kaur is a senior attorney at Remfry & Sagar.

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Email: bisman.kaur@remfry.com

Tel: +91 12 4280 6100

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