Bikram Yoga Sues Competing Studio Over Copyrighted Routine

Dec 6, 2011 - LegalZoom News Sources
Bikram Yoga is suing a fellow hot yoga instructor for copyright infringement.

Bikram Choudhury, founder of the popular Bikram Yoga practice, undertaken in temperatures up to 105 degrees, is suing fellow hot yoga instructor Greg Gumucio for copyright infringement.

Choudhury believes that Gumucio’s chain of yoga studios, called Yoga for the People, is using the Bikram yoga practices unlawfully. Gumucio, a graduate of the Bikram Yoga Instructor school, holds “Traditional Hot Yoga” classes at his studios, and, although utilitizing the same 26-pose sequence as Bikram, strongly believes his courses are perfectly legal. With classes costing $8 each, Gumucio’s studios offer a far more affordable workout option compared to the Bikram classes, often costing $25 a pop.

Bikram’s lawyer, Robert Gilchrest, sent an investigator to one of Gumucio’s classes, who said that the classes “virtually mirror” Bikram yoga, The New York Times reported. While some have questioned how Choudhury can copyright yoga poses, given the practice's ancient roots, Gilchrest told the Times that the dialogue his client uses during yoga sessions and the sequence of postures associated with Bikram can be protected under intellectual property law.

Bikram Choudhury sued the president of Prana, Inc., for copyright and trademark infringement in 2003, alleging that the organization used a picture of Bikram Choudhury in its advertising material and taught a class called “Bikram’s Basic Yoga.”