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Oprah Faces Lawsuit over Use of Phrase – “Own Your Power”
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On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, overturned a lower court ruling and held that Oprah Winfrey must face a lawsuit brought by Simone Kelley-Brown, the owner of Own Your Power Communications Inc, over Oprah’s use of the phrase “Own Your Power” on her website and in her magazine.

Simone Kelley-Brown alleges that she owns the trademark on the phrase “Own Your Power,” and runs a motivational business. The Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, recognized her complaints and observed that it was entirely possible that Winfrey was “attempting to build a new segment of her media empire” by using the phrase “Own Your Power.” The court also observed that the truth would be known only if the case proceeds.

The lawsuit had been initially dismissed by U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty of New York in 2012, because he found that no one seeing the Oprah magazine or who had information about the related events would ever confuse them as created by Kelley-Brown.

  
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Kelley-Brown claimed that Winfrey would have been aware that the phrase “Own Your Power” was trademarked by Kelley-Brown, as Oprah’s company would have made relevant searches while developing Oprah’s television network – OWN.

Winfrey is known to have repeatedly used the phrase “Own Your Power” including in a promotional event called “Own Your Power” and also on the cover of the October 2010 issue of her magazine.

The appeals court observed that continuous use of the phrase by Oprah Winfrey could become a “symbolic shorthand” for her products and branding.

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The defendants in the lawsuit include Hearst Corp, the publishers of O, The Oprah Magazine, Harpo, and Estee Lauder, one of the sponsors of the “Own Your Power” promotional event.

However, in a joint statement, Harpo and Hearst claimed that their editorial use of the phrase “Own Your Power” was protected by the First Amendment.





 

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