Contrary to popular belief, Oprah Winfrey did not invent motivational speaking.
Though Winfrey is encouraging you to “Own Your Life,” as goes the new brand message at her struggling cable network, OWN, a disgruntled New Jersey woman wants to make sure that Winfrey doesn’t go telling you to “Own Your Power,” too.
Simone Kelly-Brown, founder of Own Your Power Communications Inc., insists that she came up with the OYP concept and, while waiting for her trademark to come through, Winfrey’s Harpo Studios started using the acronym for its own gain.
Speaking of gain…
Kelly-Brown is seeking damages in light of what her lawsuit calls Winfrey’s “brazenly unlawful disregard for the existence and use of [OTP’s] trademark.”
“Under such circumstances,” states the suit, filed today in New Jersey and obtained by EW.com, “with [Winfrey and Harpo] being much larger, spending more money, having a wider reach, and an overlapping audience with the much smaller Company, particularly with one of the most influential women in the world at the helm…[OTP has] been irreparably harmed.”
The October 2010 issue of O magazine boasted the slogan across the cover and there is a section on Oprah.com devoted to the concept.
A rep for Harpo said in a statement that the studio had not been served with any paperwork and therefore had no comment on allegations it was not familiar with.
OWN has announced that it will be repackaging 25 years’ worth of material from The Oprah Winfrey Show, which ended its run in May, for a “new” daily series called Own Your Life.
We wonder if Who Really Owns Your Power? 101 will be on the syllabus.
by NATALIE FINN