California Trademark Attorney® Blog

Oprah Victorious in 'Own Your Power' Trademark Lawsuit

March 20, 2012

magazines.jpgCalifornia - Oprah Winfrey has emerged victorious in a trademark infringement lawsuit in which the owner of a motivational services company filed against the former talk-show host over the trademarked phrase 'Own Your Power.'

In the trademark infringement complaint, filed last year, Simone Kelly-Brown, a life coach and owner of Own Your Power Communications, insisted that it was her company that created the phrase along with the OYP acronym and the concept that people can "live their best life" if they believe that "anything you want in life is attainable." Kelly-Brown applied for trademark rights to 'Own Your Power' with the United States Patent and Trademark Office back in 2007.

Kelly-Brown's lawsuit had apparently been filed in response to an edition of O, The Oprah Magazine featuring the cover with a photograph of Winfrey and the headline, "Own Your Power." The cover also featured sayings such as "Unlock Your Inner Superstar," "Tap Into Your Strength," and "Focus Your Energy" with the issue running in conjunction with corporate-sponsored events and an episode of Winfrey's talk-show promoting the issue.

Own Your Power Communications, Kelly-Brown's company, has been in business since 1996, providing life coaching, empowering events, a radio show, and a blog to help individuals employ effective strategies to attain their personal and professional goals. Kelly-Brown's lawsuit asserted that Winfrey's use of 'Own Your Power' had violated her trademark rights and confused the origin of her trademark.

In his decision, Judge Paul Crotty ruled that there was no confusion about the source of the phrase and that Winfrey had the right to use descriptive phrases on the cover of her magazine. The judge also determined that the magazine's "O" trademark was identification that the 'Own Your Power' phrase was meant to be a headline, indicating the contents of the October 2010 issue.

The judge also ruled that Winfrey never used the trademark in bad faith, and that no likelihood of confusion was ever intended or created, and that she is not liable for the trademark being infringed by others because there was no direct infringement in the first place.

Neither party was available for comment.