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Pilates Trademark Overturned

Ruling has a major impact on Pilates teachers and manufacturers.

NEW YORK - When Joseph Pilates established his self-titled form of exercise, he probably had no idea that his name would one day be the cause of a legal battle.

As reported in our August 1999 issue (Whose Name Is It Anyway?, page 32), the New York-based Pilates studio had purchased the Pilates name as a trademark in the early '80s. Those who wanted to use the Pilates name had to pay a licensing fee; those who wanted to teach Pilates had to receive certification through the studio.

Balanced Body, a Sacramento-based manufacturer of Pilates equipment, took exception to the studio's Pilates trademark and filed a lawsuit.

The litigation lasted for five years, according to Balanced Body. Recently, a decision came down from a Manhattan federal court, with Balanced Body claiming victory.

A written statement from Balanced Body pointed out that U.S. District Court Judge Miriam Cedarbaum ruled that Pilates, like yoga and karate, is a type of exercise, not a trademark. In other words, it's a generic term that cannot be monopolized. The court also rejected the argument that only teachers certified by the Pilates Studio were qualified to teach the Pilates method.

This decision should come as good news to Pilates teachers, studios and manufacturers across the country that had been prevented from using the term Pilates in any form. To find out more about the court case, visit

In the November issue, Life Fitness was accidentally left out of the New Products and Services Review on elliptical equipment. We apologize for the error.

Life Fitness's listing should have appeared as follows:

LIFE FITNESS Life Fitness's latest self-powered cross-trainers provide effective, versatile and virtually zero-impact workouts, note company officials. The elliptical total-body design offers users a smooth, fluid, natural motion by moving the arms forward or in reverse in synchronization with the foot pedals, and the close pedal spacing minimizes lower-back stress. The total-body workout provides increased caloric expenditure with lower perceived exertion. The Interactive Heart Rate Zone Training program automatically adjusts resistance to keep users at their target heart rate.

Life Fitness, 10601 W. Belmont Ave., Franklin Park, IL 60131; (800) 634-8637; (847) 288-3300; fax: (847) 288-3703;

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