The year that I opened my first Pilates studio, as we were searching out names and writing marketing copy, I started hearing whispers about studios getting Cease & Desist letters from the attorneys representing a man named Sean Gallagher and Pilates, Inc. Gallagher had purchased the original Pilates business and archives, which included trademarks.
He claimed that Romana Kryzanowska's version of Classical Pilates was the only one, and that we all needed to recertify through him and pay him, or lose the right to call what we taught Pilates.
We stayed safe, calling our work "exercise based on the work of Joseph Pilates".
During these years, Ken Endelman from Balanced Body took up the fight, and in 2000 the word Pilates was freed for all of us to use.
Read the full decision here, in which you'll see how many times Gallagher lied and committed fraud.
Now, Gallagher never went away, and when social media got big he decided that nobody else should have the right to post any historical images from the archives that he purchased. He started making copyright complaints to Instagram and Facebook, and Pilates teachers who had worked years on building their social media presence lost their entire profiles overnight.
And then, of course, being true to form, he started suing people for copyright infringement.
One of those suits, against Mary Kelly from True Pilates Boston, is going to court. Mary decided to fight back!
If you're young enough not to remember the time when you couldn't call your work Pilates, especially if it wasn't purely Classical, good for you! But know that the same person who tried to control all of Pilates is now trying to control what we can post and say about Pilates, which I believe is bullshit and just plain wrong.
Lawsuits are expensive, and if you'd like to help The Pilates Transparency Project defeat Sean Gallagher so we can all rest easy and not worry every day that our social media will be gone because we posted a photo of Joe Pilates.
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