Background: Kausthub Desikachar, in the year 2018, declared his intention to own the name “Viniyoga.” In a blatantly unethical action, he attempted to silently trademark “Viniyoga” in multiple jurisdictions, and then threatened legal harassment if the word was used by yoga teachers without his permission.
Viniyoga is a generic word in the context of yoga
As we have covered in earlier posts, “viniyoga” is a word that dates back to Vedic times and is used in the Yoga Sutra by Patanjali. The word was used in the same meaning by Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar as it was in antiquity – to apply the practices in steps or stages or in an individualized way. Just for this reason alone, it is a generic word that should not even be eligible to trademark in the context of yoga.
Timeline of Kausthub Desikachar’s Viniyoga US Trademark Application
July 04, 2017: Kausthub Desikachar submits application for the word “Viniyoga” to the USPTO.
October 06, 2017: USPTO responds raising two issues and refusing the trademark.
Issue 1: The word Viniyoga is already widely used to refer to a style of yoga, and so Kausthub’s application does not identify him as the source in any way.
Issue 2: The classifications Kausthub is applying under are too broad. (Not surprising given Kausthub’s threats to sue others using the word Viniyoga. The broader the categories, the more his leverage.)
The USPTO cites several references to Viniyoga easily available through an internet search, showing how hollow and fabricated Kausthub’s claim to the name is.
April 06, 2018: Kausthub Desikachar’s team responds to the issue with falsehoods.
Kausthub’s team blatantly lies that KHYF is the source of Viniyoga to try and justify their claim. He also backtracks on his overly broad categories of registrations, and accepts the narrower categories suggested by the USPTO.
May 17, 2018: USPTO finds the arguments “unpersuasive” and pronounces a final rejection of Kausthub Desikachar’s application.
Take a closer look at what the USPTO explains in its final rejection.
Kausthub Desikachar Has Submitted No Evidence Validating his Claim to Viniyoga
The “evidence” that Kausthub supplied for his claims to Viniyoga are:
1. A Wikipedia page;
2. His trademarks in India and the EU.
Yes, that’s all.
The USPTO points out that these documents are no evidence that the applicant i.e. Kausthub Desikachar or KHYF, are the source of Viniyoga as they claim.
The USPTO says:
“In response to the Office action, applicant argues that they are the origin and the inventor of VINIYOGA and that they have received registrations in Europe and India, and that the evidence does not reference the origin and source of the teachings. The trademark examining attorney finds applicant’s arguments to be unpersuasive.“
In other words, Kausthub does not have a single document in support of his claim to personally, or under KHYF, own the Viniyoga name. This is the man who claims to be the sole lineage holder entitled to use the name of Viniyoga. And he does not have a single document to support that, but tries to trademark it everywhere and sue others.
Then again, we suppose this should not be surprising. It is just part of the larger pattern of Kausthub Desikachar’s continuing egregious falsehoods and abusive behavior.
USPTO Independently Confirms that Viniyoga is a Generic Word in the Yoga Field
The USPTO did a search for the term Viniyoga and points out that Viniyoga has “become a common, well known, and established genre of yoga.”
The USPTO establishes that the people who are using the term viniyoga are doing so for their own good and services, not for Kausthub.
It also notes that Kausthub Desikachar and KHYF (the applicant) “cannot now seek to inhibit competition in the marketplace, which has freely used the wording and this particular style of yoga to market their own goods and services for some time now.”
That is, of course, exactly what Kausthub is trying to do with his attempts to trademark Viniyoga – to inhibit competition from others who have worked for decades, and unethically grab money for himself.
USPTO Collates 39 Pages of Screenshots to Refute Kausthub Desikachar’s Claim to Viniyoga
Not only does the USPTO emphatically reject Kausthub’s trademark application, it also goes on to show that there is extensive evidence for the use of Viniyoga completely unrelated to KHYF and Kausthub.
The USPTO says:
Here, the attached evidence shows 194,000 search results from a Google search for the term “VINIYOGA”, and 56,200 search results for “VINIYOGA classes”.
To show that, the final document includes 39 pages of screenshots related to Viniyoga! None of which is connected with Kausthub Desikachar or KHYF.
For those who have any doubt that Kausthub Desikachar’s actions in trademarking Viniyoga are brazenly unethical and fraudulent, this independent verification and emphatic rejection with cause by the USPTO should provide all the proof anyone can ask for.
Kausthub Desikachar and KHYF have no moral or even legal right to trademark Viniyoga, leave alone threatening to sue others using the word. It is through misrepresentation and loopholes that they have managed to register the trademark in India and the EU.
We call upon all right-thinking people in the yoga field to reject the programs Kausthub Desikachar pushes under his misrepresentations, cover-ups, and lies.