Two in-demand fitness trainers face off in a new battle over their respective choreography-based fitness methods. According to the lawsuit they filed in California federal court on Monday, Tracy Anderson Mind and Body, LLC and TA STUDIO NEW YORK LLC (“Tracy Anderson” or “TA”) allege that Megan Roup and her company Sculpt Society are on the hook for copyright infringement, misrepresentation of origin, and breach of contract because “a significant number” of the fitness videos they make available to Sculpt Society members “infringe [TA’s] copyrighted” and “were created using confidential information” Roup had access to while working as a trainer for Tracy Anderson.
Setting the stage in the lawsuit (as first reported by TFL), Tracy Anderson claims that its eponymous founder is the owner of the registered copyrights to “various media, including DVDs created by and featuring Ms. Anderson, who express, relate to, or are based on the TA Method,” a “revolutionary choreography protocol comprised of personalized and specific movements, sequences, and routines that uniquely combine choreography, fitness, and cardiovascular movement “. The New York-based company – whose clients have included a long list of big-name stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna – says Roup became well versed in the TA method, including “training materials [and] transcripts of choreography,” as well as “business information, client lists, and operational procedures, such as specialized methods of greeting clients,” during her tenure as a plaintiff trainer from 2011 to 2017.
(This confidential information is essential, according to TA, because “if it is possible for an individual to watch one of Anderson’s online videos or attend one of his classes and reproduce some of the footage. ..this is insufficient to achieve the benefits Anderson intended…without knowing the proprietary reasoning and methodology behind the movements and how and why to sequence them a certain way.”)
“In short, Roup had access to all of the documents necessary to replicate the TA method and related activities, and she wasted no time in doing so,” the plaintiffs claim. Specifically, Tracy Anderson claims that before Roup resigned in February 2017 to start Sculpt Society, which offers “choreography-based mat-based fitness and movement classes and directly competes with [TA]”, she began “to use the confidential information, and access to it, to plan or create the choreography routines, business plan and structure, and promotional materials that would form the basis and help throw [the Sculpt Society].”
Despite signing a trainer agreement in 2011, which “prohibits trainers, including Roup, from using or disclosing company ‘confidential information'”, including “its non-public business and operational information, training materials and manuals, and transcribed methods taught to trainers, including those that include the TA Method’s proprietary movements, sequences, and choreographic routines” and which “expressly survive the termination of a coach,” Tracy Anderson claims that in starting her own business, Roup actually used that information and “capitalized on years of research, money, and equity. [Ms.] Anderson and the plaintiffs were invested in the development of the TA method. »
To make matters worse, TA alleges that the defendants peddle “false and/or misleading public statements and advertisements that create the false impression that Roup, single-handedly, created the choreography which includes[s] the [Sculpt Society] Method”, thus giving rise to a risk of confusion for the consumer as to the origin, nature, source and development of the Method. TA asserts that the defendants further confuse consumers by “deliberately concealing[ing] Roup’s formation and association with [TA] from the public so that Roup can claim to be the original creator of the movements, sequences and choreographic routines that make up the Sculpt Society method.
And yet, such potential for confusion is aggravated, according to TA, by Roup’s “structuring”.[ing] of the Sculpt Society method such as the TA method. For example, TA claims that “some of the Sculpt Society Method programs are structured on 28 or 30 day schedules, such as Anderson’s 30 Day Method”, and Roup offers “pre and postnatal programs, and which focus on certain parts of the body, such as the hips or glutes, just like the TA method does.
Raising claims of copyright infringement, TA points to a number of defendants’ videos, which allegedly “include Roup or [the Sculpt Society] employees performing choreographic movements, sequences and routines that are substantially similar to those described in the [the videos for which TA maintains copyright registrations], and therefore constitute violations of copyright. For example, TA claims that the defendants’ videos titled “30Min Sculpt 07”, “30Min Sculpt 08”, “30Min Sculpt 09”, and “30Min Sculpt w/ Matt 22”, for example, include “choreography movements, sequences and routines substantially similar to those described in [TA’s] Portion of the DVD from day 21 to 30 entitled “Metamorphosis: Glutecentric”, for which TA maintains a copyright registration. (Interestingly, the lawsuit follows various considerations about the scope of copyright protections for choreography, prompted by infringement lawsuits over dances on TikTok.)
Additionally, Tracy Anderson claims that the defendants broke the law (the Lanham Act) by “intentionally doing[ing] false and/or misleading descriptions or representations of fact likely to confuse the consumer as to the origin of [their] services”, including “deceiving a substantial segment of its audience” into believing that they developed the Sculpt Society method “independent of the TA method” and that they have “no affiliation or training with TA” , among other things. Such statements are “material”, according to TA, because they are “likely to influence the purchase decision of a choreography-based fitness consumer choosing between competing services”.
Bringing a breach of contract claim against Roup in his personal capacity, TA alleges that Roup “has breached and continues to breach the Trainer Agreement by using and disclosing to third parties the Confidential Information after his employment with TA terminated” . TA also establishes a claim for unfair and/or fraudulent acts and trade practices under California State law.
In light of the foregoing, Tracy Anderson states that she was “directly and directly harmed”, including by the “unfair and fraudulent business acts and practices” of the defendants, which caused the plaintiffs “injury to their business”, as well as to suffer “diversion of sales and customers from [them] to the defendants and/or by a reduction in the goodwill linked to [them] and their services. In addition to monetary damages, TA is seeking an injunction restraining defendants from “advertising, promoting, or publishing false and/or misleading descriptions or representations of facts relating to the origin and development of the method.” Sculpt Society”, using the supposedly roundabout method. confidential information they have obtained from TA, and infringe TA’s copyrights.
A Sculpt Society representative was not immediately available for comment.
The case is Tracy Anderson Mind and Body, LLC, et al. against Megan Roup, et al., 2:22-cv-04735 (CD Cal.)