2:45pm PT by Ashley Cullins
Oprah Winfrey Wins "Own Your Power" Trademark Fight — Again
Oprah Winfrey should be owning her legal power now that a five-year trademark battle has finally ended in her favor.
In 2011, life coach Simone Kelly-Brown sued Winfrey for using "own your power" on the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine, claiming she trademarked the three-word phrase in 1996.
The legal fight bounced back and forth between New York federal court and the 2nd Circuit for years, eventually ending in a decision Friday.
The appellate panel held that standing alone, the literal mark of "own your power" is not distinctive and doesn't warrant trademark protection. But even if the phrase were protectable, the panel found that no reasonable jury could conclude that the phrase had become uniquely associated with Kelly-Brown's products and services.
The issue of whether Kelly-Brown's composite mark, the phrase combined with its design elements, is protectable wasn't reached, although the panel's discussion of the issue suggests that would result in a win for Winfrey as well.
"Were we to conduct such an inquiry, the Plaintiffs’ lack of protection in the literal component of their mark would be dispositive, in this case, of the strength of their mark for purposes of this analysis, just as it would be dispositive of the similarity of the marks (as it is uncontested that the Defendants’ use of the mark was similar only to the literal, and unprotected, component of the Plaintiffs’ mark)," states the summary order. (Read it in full here.)