Oprah Winfrey
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A U.S. District Judge decided Thursday that Winfrey used the phrase in good faith and to convey an "overall message of self-empowerment."

Dominique Hobdy
Mar, 08, 2015

Oprah Winfrey has won a tough legal battle over her use of the term "Own Your Power."

According to the Hollywood ReporterU.S. District Judge Paul Crotty in Manhattan ruled that Oprah, her company Harpo Productions Inc., and her publisher Hearst Corp demonstrated that the phrase "lacks the requisite distinctiveness" to deserve trademark protection.

Crotty also noted that Simone Kelly-Brown, the entrepreneur and motivational speaker who filed the lawsuit claiming that she trademarked the phrase in 2008, and her company Own Your Power Communications Inc. did not show that Winfrey's use of the phrase would not likely confuse consumers. 

“Though they may aspire to do so, plaintiffs (Kelly-Brown) present no evidence indicating a likelihood of creating a global media presence capable of attracting an audience of millions,” Crotty wrote. 

Winfrey was hit with the lawsuit in 2011 following the use of the phrase on the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine, a magazine-related event, TV shows and social media accounts. The dispute was dismissed in March of 2012 and revived 14 months later because defendants did not show that their use of "Own Your Power" constituted fair use.

Crotty also noted in his decision that Winfrey used the phrase in good faith and in conjunction with other words associated with her brand and to convey "a message of self-empowerment."

Patricia Lawrence-Kolaras, a lawyers for the plaintiffs, says that her clients plan to appeal Crotty's decision.