By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oprah Winfrey’s company has filed a lawsuit against the creators of the “Oprahdemics” podcast, claiming the program misled listeners into thinking it sponsored or endorsed it.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday night in Manhattan federal court, Winfrey’s Harpo Inc said it was not seeking profits or damages from “Oprahdemics” creators Kellie Carter Jackson and Leah Wright Rigor, or stop the podcast.
Instead, he wants a name change, saying the podcast and related live events dilute Harpo’s “Oprah” and “O” brands, and wrongfully capitalize on the goodwill Winfrey has spent decades building. to build.
Harpo, which is Oprah spelled backwards, said that simply being associated with the “Oprah” brand often causes an “exponential” increase in sales, known as the “Oprah effect” or ” the O factor.
The “Oprahdemics” website describes Jackson and Rigor as historians and friends who break down iconic episodes of Winfrey’s talk show and discuss the cultural impact of the “Queen of Talk.”
In a statement, co-producer Jody Avirgan, whose Roulette Productions is also a defendant, called “Oprahdemics” a “journalistic exploration by history teachers and sincere, lifelong fans of Oprah Winfrey.”
He said Roulette “has been engaged with Harpo’s team for some time – although this is really surprised, we hope to resolve it”.
In an April interview with NPR, Rigor called Winfrey an institution.
“She is a woman, a black woman, who has dominated multiple spaces and arenas” since the 1980s, she said. “I say this in a way that doesn’t absolve her of…constructive criticism or commentary or anything like that, but rather as an acknowledgment of…the institution of Oprah Winfrey and the Oprah Winfrey brand. “
Winfrey, 68, is also an actress and philanthropist who has turned 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.
The case is Harpo Inc v Jackson et al, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-06787.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)