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Kelly-Brown v. Winfrey

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
717 F.3d 295 (2013)


Facts

Ms. Kelly-Brown (plaintiff) owned a motivational services company that promoted the concept of “Own Your Power.” Kelly-Brown had registered the term as a service mark and hosted a radio show, conferences, and a blog under the mark. Oprah Winfrey was an internationally known celebrity whose ventures included a television show, a magazine, a website, and other media outlets. At approximately the same time as Kelly-Brown was registering “Own Your Power” as a service mark, Winfrey south to register the mark “OWN” for the Oprah Winfrey Network. Winfrey became aware of another mark, “OWN Onyx Women Network” during a trademark search and purchased the rights to that trademark from its original owners. After trademarking “OWN,” Winfrey’s media empire began using the term “Own Your Power.” It appeared prominently on the cover of an issue of the magazine, in multiple locations on the website, and as the theme of an Oprah-sponsored motivational seminar and workshop event, which was promoted as the “First-Ever Own Your Power Event.” Kelly-Brown sued Winfrey under the Lanham Act for trademark infringement. The district court held for Winfrey, determining that Winfrey’s use of the term amounted to fair use.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Straub, J.)

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