Oprah wins lawsuit against motivational speaker over ‘Own Your Power’ phrase
Oprah Winfrey has prevailed in a tough legal battle after being accused of illegally using the term “Own Your Power” in her magazine, TV shows and online website.
Entrepreneur and motivational speaker Simone Kelly-Brown filed the lawsuit in 2011, claiming a registered trademark for 15 years, The Hollywood Reporter cites.
The following year, Kelly-Brown’s lawsuit was tossed after a federal judge ruled that Winfrey had a fair use right to descriptively label her magazine.
A year later, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals revived the dispute with doubts that an Oprah Magazine power women issue really encouraged readers to become more powerful in a descriptive sense.
Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty in Manhattan ruled that Oprah, her company Harpo Productions Inc., and her publisher Hearst Corp demonstrated that the phrase “lacks the requisite distinctiveness” to deserve trademark protection.
“Though they may aspire to do so, plaintiffs (Kelly-Brown) present no evidence indicating a likelihood of creating a global media presence capable of attracting an audience of millions,” Crotty wrote.
Crotty added that Winfrey made that showing by having used the phrase in good faith, in conjunction with other words and images associated with her overall brand and to convey a “message of self-empowerment.”
According to Fortune, Patricia Lawrence-Kolaras, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said her clients plan to appeal Judge Crotty’s decision.
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