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Love it or Leave it: THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK trademark

Posted by admin on: January 5th, 2011

Earlier this week the new “Oprah Winfrey Network,” a new cable television channel, launched. The channel has been in the work for quite some time and has been the subject of much publicity. Oprah is one of the most powerful businesspeople and entertainers in America.

But the name of the new channel, in my opinion, is a dud. “The Oprah Winfrey Network” name focuses too much on one person. In order to fill 24 hours of programming 7 days a week, the station will contain much more than just programming created by, produced by, or somehow related to Oprah. I guess in some manner everything on the channel will be endorsed by Oprah. But the channel name really does not communicate anything significant – other than the fact that Ms. Winfrey is in control. And because she gets so much publicity, even if the network were launched by here and named “XYZ” the relevant audience would likely know that it was her channel anyways.

In other words, the opportunity to communicate something other than the fact that it is Oprah’s channel has been lost.

Also, the acronym used by the channel it its logo – OWN – does not say much about the channel. It does suggest some viewer control over the channel – but that is a direct contradiction with the main message of the brand, which is that one person is in control.

Love it or Leave it? I would leave “The Oprah Winfrey Network”

Even though I do not like the name, I do commend the network for filing to register many trademarks for the network brands long before the station went live. (Click trademark for USPTO records.)

  • MY OWN SHOW – pending application for “Entertainment services in the nature of a multimedia program series featuring an ongoing reality based program distributed via various platforms across multiple forms of transmission media; providing entertainment information to others via a global computer network”
  • YOUR OWN SHOW – pending application for “Entertainment services in the nature of a multimedia program series featuring an ongoing reality based program distributed via various platforms across multiple forms of transmission media; providing entertainment information to others via a global computer network”
  • THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK – pending application for “Books, magazines, newsletters, instructional manuals and printed instructional teaching materials, all featuring subjects of general human interest; photographs; stationery; adhesives for stationery or household uses; artists’ materials, namely, artists’ brushes and artists’ pastels; paint brushes; plastic material for packaging, namely, plastic bags; printers’ type; printing blocks; posters; postcards; note cards; desk top organizers; desk sets; desk pads; blotters; personal organizers; diaries; agendas; pens; pencils; pencil cases; pen cases; drawing rulers; bookmarks; book plates; book covers; paper stationery portfolios; binders; notebooks; coloring books; note pads; non-electric erasers; non-electric pencil sharpeners; stencils; stationery letter and writing paper holders; file folders; rubber stamps; blackboards; paper bags; plastic bags for general use; wrapping paper; trading cards; children’s activity books; educational activity books in fields of general human interest; composition books; stickers; decals; paper napkins; paper tablecloths; place mats of paper; calendars; paper, including writing paper, art paper, construction paper; art and crafts paint kits; art prints; color prints; lithographic prints; photographic prints; comic strips; paper party favors; paper party decorations; paper party bags; maps”
  • THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK – pending application for “Clothing, namely, shirts, pants, shorts, skirts, skorts, dresses, tops, bottoms, overalls, foul weather gear, rainwear, jackets, coats, ponchos, sweaters, sweat shirts, sweat pants, sweat jackets, sweat suits, tracksuits, T-shirts, jerseys, pullovers, loungewear, socks, hosiery, undergarments, pajamas, robes, nightwear, sleepwear, sleep masks, gloves, mittens, scarves, beachwear, swimwear, baby tops, baby bottoms, baby bibs not of paper, bathrobes, belts, neckwear and suspenders; headwear; footwear”
  • THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK – pending application for “Entertainment services, namely, multimedia programs in the field of general human interest, distributed via various platforms across multiple forms of transmission media; providing entertainment information regarding ongoing television programs via a global computer network; production of television programs; production of multimedia programs”
  • THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK – pending application for “Providing healthcare information to others via a global computer network”
  • THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK – pending application for “Prerecorded audiovisual recordings, audiotapes, videotapes, video discs, compact discs, DVDs and multimedia software recorded on CD-ROM, all featuring subjects of general human interest; electronic learning games in the nature of electronic game software for educational purposes; video game discs; computer game discs; electronic game programs; downloadable ring tones, graphics, ring backs, animated ringers, video ringers and animated screensavers via the Internet and wireless devices; digital media, namely, downloadable prerecorded video clips, prerecorded audio clips, text and graphics held in electronic personal computers and handheld wireless devices, all featuring subjects of general human interest; sunglasses”
  • THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK – pending application for “Communications services, namely, transmitting streamed sound and audio-visual recordings via the Internet, cable networks, wireless networks, satellite, or interactive multimedia networks; audio and video broadcasting services over the Internet; transmission of information in the audio-visual field; television broadcasting services; cable television broadcasting; satellite television broadcasting; mobile media services in the nature of electronic transmission of entertainment media content; podcasting services; webcasting services; video-on-demand transmission services; providing on-line chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among users in the field of general interest”
  • THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK – pending application for “Games, toys and playthings, namely, action skill games; action target games; amusement game machines; arcade games; baby multiple activity toys; basketball table top games; bath toys; bean bags; bendable toys; billiard game playing equipment; bingo game playing equipment; board games; bobble head dolls; bubble making wand and solution sets; building games; cases for play accessories; children’s multiple activity toys; children’s multiple activity tables; children’s play cosmetics; children’s art activity toys not including arts and crafts clay kits or paint kits; collectible toy figures; construction toys; costume masks; crib mobiles; crib toys; electric action toys; electronic educational game machines for children; electronic learning toys; electronic toy vehicles; non-electronic toy vehicles; puppets; infant toys; infant rattles; jigsaw and manipulative puzzles; juggling equipment; kaleidoscopes; kites; magic tricks; marbles; memory games; mobiles for children; scale model vehicles; musical toys; paper airplanes; parlor games; party games; pinball-type games; play balloons; play wands; plush toys; pull toys; push toys; ride-on toys; rocking horses; sandbox toys; snow globes; spinning tops; squeeze toys; stacking toys; talking toys; wind-up toys; toy banks; toy butterfly nets; toy modeling dough; card games; toy model hobby craft kits; soft sculpture toys; puzzles; toy action figures and accessories therefor; play figures; dolls and accessories and playsets therefor; yo-yos; gymnastics and sporting articles not included in other classes, namely, gymnastic apparatus; balls for games; sport balls; exercise balls; basketball game playing equipment in the nature of basketballs, hoops, nets and backboards. soccer game playing equipment in the nature of balls, nets and goals; baseball game playing equipment in the nature of baseballs, bats, bases and mitts; badminton game playing equipment in the nature of rackets, shuttlecocks, poles and nets; hockey game playing equipment in the nature of hockey sticks, pucks, nets and goals; dart game playing equipment in the nature of darts and dartboards; football game playing equipment in the nature of footballs and goalposts; table tennis game playing equipment in the nature of paddles, table tennis balls, table tennis tables and nets; tennis game playing equipment in the nature of tennis balls, rackets and nets; golf game playing equipment in the nature of golf clubs, golf balls, tees, divot repair tools; volleyball game playing equipment in the nature of volleyballs, poles and nets; cases specially adapted for sports equipment; croquet sets; disc toss toys; ice skates; in-line skates; roller skates; jump ropes; jungle gyms; netballs; nets for ball games; nets for sports; paddle ball games; personal exercise mats; yoga mats; play swimming pools; play tents; playground equipment, namely, sandboxes; playground slides; swing sets; see-saws; skateboards; skipping ropes; sleds for use in downhill amusement rides; trampolines; decorations for Christmas trees; pet toys; and playing cards”
  • OWN’S BEST LIFE ALL STARS – pending application for “Entertainment services, namely, a multimedia program series featuring subjects of general human interest, distributed via various platforms across multiple forms of transmission media; education and entertainment services, namely, production and distribution of ongoing television programs in the field of general human interest”
  • Note: In several of these applications, Ms. Winfrey’s consent to use her name in the trademark was recently submitted in the form of a statement she signed in 2001 in regards to a different trademark application (for OPRAH). I wonder if this “consent” will be accepted by the USPTO — it do not believe that consent provided 9 years ago for a different trademark is valid for these applications.
  • I would love to see plans for use of THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK in connection with table tennis balls, ice skates, croquet sets, and some of the other goods listed in the applications. To be proper, an application must be filed with a “bona fide intent to use the mark in commerce.” If real intent was lacking at the time of the application on some of the goods, should the entire application be void or only coverage of the goods at issue?

Lesson: When planning a new brand, filing to protect the trademarks early is the best idea to secure protection and maximize value of the brand.

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