The Oprah Effect: Podcasters Sued for “Oprahdemics” BrandAugust 24, 2022

“YOU get a car! YOU get a car! YOU get a car!” Kellie Carter Jackson and Leah Wright Rigueur, however, get a lawsuit.

Media giant Oprah Winfrey seemingly strayed from her benevolent ways earlier this month when her media company Harpo, Inc. filed a lawsuit against Jackson and Rigueur, as well as Roulette Productions, LLC, who produce and host a podcast titled “Oprahdemics.” Launched earlier this year, the Oprahdemics podcast seeks to “break down Oprah’s most iconic episodes” and explore “what the Queen of Talk has meant for our culture.” According to the lawsuit, however, the podcast is doing so “in bad faith by attempting to capitalize on the goodwill and reputation of Harpo’s trademarks to raise [Jackson’s and Rigueur’s] own personal and professional brands.”

Specifically, the lawsuit, filed on August 8th in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Case 1:22-cv-06787-AKH), alleges trademark infringement, dilution, unfair competition, and cybersquatting. The basis for these claims revolve primarily around the Oprahdemics title. Harpo claims that by using the Oprahdemics name (which, of course, incorporates Oprah’s famous name), Jackson and Rigueur are creating confusion and falsely creating the impression that the podcast and any related endeavors are produced by, authorized, sponsored, or approved by, or otherwise affiliated with Harpo or Oprah.

While the defendants have not responded to the lawsuit yet, the Complaint states that “[d]espite Harpo’s requests, Defendants, through counsel, have refused to transition away from the dilutive and confusingly similar OPRAHDEMICS brand.” In defending their use of the Oprahdemics mark, the defendants may attempt to rely on a fair use defense, claiming that it is necessary to use the Oprah mark in describing goods and services relating to Oprah (e.g. their podcast). While there may be some logic to this argument, it will likely be an uphill battle, as courts generally ask whether an alleged infringer has falsely suggested sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark owner.

Notably, despite alleging wrongful conduct, Harpo makes clear that it “does not seek monetary damages or profits under applicable law” and notes that the “sole purpose” of the lawsuit “is to protect its trademark rights.” Thankfully for Jackson and Rigueur, it seems that Oprah remains charitable even in the court room.

Nicholas J. Krob is an Associate Attorney in the TrademarkLicensing, and Litigation Practice Groups at McKee, Voorhees & Sease. For additional information, please visit or contact Nicholas directly via email at

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