A ccording to the Hollywood Reporter, Oprah Winfrey was victorious in a recent trademark suit regarding the use of the phrase “Own Your Power.” The phrase, which appears on the cover of her magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, and other various Oprah products, was allegedly a registered trademark of Simone Kelly-Brown, a motivational services entrepreneur. Kelly-Brown filed the suit in 2011 and initially lost, with the court finding Oprah’s utilization of the phrase, a fair use–a description of the magazine. However, on appeal, the 2nd Circuit was less certain that “Own Your Power,” was an accurate description of the publication. Therefore, the case was sent back for further proceedings examining what exactly Kelly-Brown owned. U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty found that the phrase “own your power” did not garner trademark protection despite Kelly-Brown’s registration, because it “lack[ed] the requisite distinctiveness to be entitled to protection.” While Judge Crotty noted that it may be descriptive in the sense that it describes the motivational services offered by Kelly-Brown, the phrase had not developed a secondary meaning associated with Kelly-Brown’s business. Similarly, there was no likelihood of confusion of the use of the phrase in the context of Kelly-Brown’s services and Oprah’s empire. Therefore, there was no infringing use.
Now Oprah can continue to own her power without fear of legal sanctions.