Jeff Eckhoff: A nonprofit Iowa-based educational foundation tied to the calming meditation teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has injected new stress into the life of a competitor.
Maharishi Foundation USA Inc. of Fairfield this week sued the Meditation House LLC, accusing it of infringing on the foundation’s trademark covering the teaching of “Transcendental Meditation.”
Paperwork filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Des Moines accuses The Meditation House of lying in its advertising about the benefits of “Vedic Meditation.” Claims about the studied health value of those techniques are “false on their face,” according to the lawsuit, and designed to confuse the public with research done on Transcendental Meditation, which has been actively taught in the U.S. for roughly 50 years.
“The Foundation has never had an affiliation or license with The Meditation House nor, on information and belief, has anyone connected with The Meditation House ever taken an authorized course on the TM technique, let alone acquired the skills and knowledge necessary or the authorization from the Foundation required to teach it,” the lawsuit says. “The Meditation House’s belief that the parties’ respective meditation services are equivalent is based on a self-serving desire to appropriate the valuable goodwill associated with the Foundation’s brand for its own commercial gain.”
A disclaimer on themeditationhouse.com insists that the company and life coach Jules Green “expressly disclaim any association with Maharishi Foundation Ltd.,” its trademarks or its practices.
Green, a “holistic life coach” who offers workshops in San Diego, New York and Des Moines, on the website lauds the “5000-year-old tradition of Vedic Meditation” and describes how her own meditation “led her to India to study with world-renowned Vedic scholar Thom Knoles in an ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas.”
Green did not immediately return a phone call to the Iowa number listed on her website.
Iowa corporation records show The Meditation House, LLC was formed in May 2010 by Jules Green Zubradt. The corporate address listed in state records belongs to an Ankeny home owned by Marilyn Green.
The Maharishi Foundation’s lawsuit accuses Green’s company of false advertising, unfair competition, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, false representation, unfair competition and unjust enrichment. Court papers seek “all profits wrongfully derived by The Meditation House” from its allegedly improper activities, as well as multiple changes in the content of the Meditation House website.
The foundation also seeks a court order requiring that Green’s company notify “each and every customer who purchased services” from The Meditation House that “there is no evidence that the technique taught by the defendant reduces the risk of heart disease or normalizes blood pressure, and there is no published scientific study that demonstrates any health benefit from the technique taught by the defendant.”
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