Harpo Inc., the media production company founded by Oprah Winfrey that also owns the media mogul’s trademarks, is suing Kellie Carter Jackson and Leah Wright Rigueur over their podcast. In the couple’s podcast, Oprahdemics, the two historians break down the most iconic episodes of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Harpo sues the women for using Winfrey’s name without a license.
According to a lawsuit filed Tuesday and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Harpo alleges that the podcast’s name “explicitly misleads consumers as to the source and/or sponsorship of defendants’ branded offerings.” The complaint also cites the “Oprah Effect”, and that association with the Oprah brand has “led to an exponential increase in sales of a product or service”.
Although Harpo is not seeking monetary damages or benefits from the hosts of Oprahdemics or their production company Roulette Productions, Harpo states in its lawsuit that “the Court should enjoin Defendants from wrongfully creating a new trademark incorporating the trademarks of Harpo and to make any use of the mark that is dilutive and constitutes an improper use of Harpo’s Oprah and O family of trademarks. The complaint also states that she is not trying to prevent Jackson and Rigerur “from airing a series of podcasts on their chosen topic.” The lawsuit is not against Radiotopia, which distributes the podcast.
Oprahdemics launched in March and the two hosts discuss “all things Oprah” and what Winfrey “has meant to our culture.”
In a statement posted on Twitter, Roulette Productions’ Jody Avirgan said they had been “engaged” with Harpo “for some time” and were “surprised by this lawsuit”, adding “We hope to resolve it. Avirgan also said they view the podcast as a celebration of Winfrey’s career.
“Oprahdemics is a journalistic exploration by history teachers and sincere, lifelong fans of Oprah Winfrey,” she said. “As independent producers, we believe it’s important to have fun, accessible and educational conversations about Ms. Winfrey’s cultural impact. This comes from a place of both deep admiration and critical thought. Kellie and Leah are great hosts.”