*Oprah Winfrey’s name has global recognition. Even the letter O rings bells for people around the world. Harpo Inc., the company that controls Oprah Winfrey’s trademarks, thoroughly investigates every licensing opportunity.
Harpo Inc., is now suing a podcasting team for claims of an unlawful and unauthorized attempt to profit from “The Oprah Effect.” Harpo Inc., has filed a lawsuit against Kellie Carter Jackson and Leah Wright Rigueur for their ‘Oprahdemics‘ podcast.
The name #Oprahdemics, according to Winfrey’s firm, misleads listeners to believe that Oprah is involved with the podcast. They further claim that this assumption further dilutes the strength of her brand and may cause irreparable damage to Harpo Inc’s., image.
The podcasters’ production company released a statement in direct response to the lawsuit: “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.”
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Harp says all it wants is a name change, saying the podcast and related live events negatively affect the company’s “Oprah” and “O” trademarks, and wrongly capitalize on the goodwill that Winfrey has spent decades building, reports Reuters.
Harpo, which is Oprah spelled backward, said simply being associated with the “Oprah” brand often causes an “exponential” jump in sales, known as “The Oprah Effect” or “The O Factor.”
The “Oprahdemics” website describes Jackson and Rigueur as historians and friends who break down iconic episodes of Winfrey’s talk show and discuss the cultural impact of the “Queen of Talk.”
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In a statement, co-producer Jody Avirgan, whose company Roulette Productions is also a defendant, called “Oprahdemics” a “journalistic exploration by history professors and sincere, longtime fans of Oprah Winfrey.”
He said Roulette “has been engaged with the team at Harpo for some time–while genuinely surprised by this, we hope to resolve it.”
In an April interview with NPR, Rigueur called Winfrey an institution.
“This is a woman, a Black woman, who has dominated multiple spaces and arenas” since the 1980s, she said. “I say that in a way that doesn’t absolve her of … constructive criticism or feedback or anything like that, but instead as recognition of … the institution of Oprah Winfrey and the Oprah Winfrey brand.”
Winfrey, 68, is also an actress and philanthropist who parlayed her namesake Chicago television talk show, which ran nationally from 1986 to 2011, into a media and business empire. She is worth $2.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine.