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A motivational and self-help company in New Jersey has filed a lawsuit against Oprah, alleging that the media powerhouse stole the phrase "Own Your Power," which Harpo Studios uses to brand Oprah's OWN network and parts of her website.
According to Simone Kelly-Brown, the woman behind the Oprah lawsuit, she and her company, Own Your Power Communications, have been around since 1996, originating the phrase and its acronym (OYP).
And laying claim to it with a registered trademark.
The Oprah lawsuit alleges that the improper use began in 2010, when "Own Your Power" appeared on the cover of the October issue of O Magazine, reports TMZ. The issue also directed readers to an Oprah website with the same name.
However, things finally escalated beyond repair when Oprah and Kelly-Brown held Own Your Power events a day apart in the same city.
Because trademark law seeks to protect branding, or the association of a product with a specific company, it's likely that Oprah's use of "Own Your Power" is an improper violation of Kelly-Brown's trademark, so long as the trademark is valid.
Using another's valid trademark to sell your own product, particularly when it is well known, dilutes the mark's worth. It also may cause consumer confusion, which trademark law also aims to eliminate.
As of this moment, Harpo Studios has yet to be officially notified of the Oprah lawsuit, reports Entertainment Weekly. And though it has thus declined to comment about its allegedly improper use of "Own Your Power," chances are Oprah won't be giving up the phrase anytime soon.