Oprah Winfrey’s company, Harpo Inc., has filed a lawsuit against the podcast creators for “Oprahdemics,” citing the misleading of listeners to believe that the media mogul sponsored it.
Creator and co-creator Kellie Carter Jackson and Leah Wright Rigueur were named as the perpetrators in the Manhattan federal court complaint filed early this August.
Harpo Inc., who own Winfrey’s trademark and licensing, have accused the duo of diluting their company’s likeness.
The Roulette Production podcast has also been asked to change their logo and brand which entails a key art of a capital ‘O’ with arms stretched of a woman emerging in the middle, some would argue that the woman’s image resembles the iconic talk show host.
“Defendants’ use of the OPRAHDEMICS trademark and OPRAHDEMICS O Logo is not authorized by Harpo and was undertaken in bad faith by virtue of their intent to exploit the goodwill and reputation of Harpo’s trademarks and create confusion as to the source, sponsorship and/or affiliation of the service and/or goods provided under the OPRAHDEMICS trademark and OPRAHDEMICS O Logo,” court documents read. “Upon information and belief, Defendants Jackson and Rigueur have also acted in bad faith by attempting to capitalize on the goodwill and reputation of Harpo’s trademarks to raise their own personal and professional brands,” the complaint stated.
Co-producer of the podcast Jody Avirgan rebuts that Oprahdemics is rather an ode to the queen of daytime talk instead of imitation, referring to the podcast as a journalistic exploration by history professors and sincere, longtime fans of Oprah Winfrey.”
They continued, “As independent producers, we feel it’s important to have fun, approachable, and educational conversations about the cultural impact of Ms. Winfrey. This comes from a place of both deep admiration and critical thinking. Kellie and Leah are remarkable hosts. Roulette Productions produces ‘Oprahdemics’ and has been engaged with the team at Harpo for some time–while genuinely surprised by this, we hope to resolve it,” according to a statement sent to the Hollywood Reporter.
“Her fame is so extensive that she is instantly recognized by her first name Oprah alone,” writes attorney Tamara Carmichael of Dorsey & Whitney in the complaint, which was filed Tuesday in New York federal court. The suit for trademark infringement, dilution, unfair competition and cybersquatting includes a history of her brand, beginning with the premiere of The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986. It also includes a list of nearly two dozen registered trademarks — two of which are just the letter “O” in a specific font.
Although a complaint was filed, the network says that their intention is not the shut the podcast down or to gain profit from it.
“Harpo does not seek monetary damages or profits available under applicable law from Defendants’ wrongful acts of building a media and entertainment brand by capitalizing on the goodwill of the OPRAH and O family of trademarks. Nor does Harpo seek to prohibit Defendants from airing a podcast series on their chosen topic,” writes Carmichael in the complaint, which is embedded below. “However, Harpo submits that the Court should enjoin Defendants from wrongfully creating a new brand incorporating Harpo’s trademarks and making trademark use which is dilutive of and constitutes misuse of Harpo’s OPRAH and O family of trademarks and explicitly misleads consumers as to the source and/or sponsorship of Defendants’ branded offerings.”
Winfrey, 68, hosted her namesake nationally syndicated talk show from 1986-2011.