Untarnished Trademark

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A U.S. court threw out a lawsuit brought by Ronald Brockmeyer against Oprah Winfrey. Brockmeyer claimed that Oprah's magazine, "O", tarnished the trademark of his erotic magazine of the same name.

[The judge] said readers could not confuse Brockmeyer's magazine containing photos of "whip-bearing, naked women engaged in sadomasochistic and lesbian acts" with Winfrey's publication aimed at helping women improve their lives guided by the performer's values.

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  1. Or maybe, “The Story of O”?

    Just a thought.

  2. Joe Dougherty:

    The same is true of Rosie O’Donnell: her face appeared on the cover of every single issue. Of course, if a dominatrix/S&M magazine called “Rosie” ever came out, she might have a legitimate complaint of reader confusion.

  3. I’m cinical enough about this to side with Mo, that if it had been the other way around, the suit could have turned out differently. I suspect the primary reason there is no confusion issues (and no fear of it from Oprah’s side) is the fact that these magazines exists in entirely different venues. You can find Oprah’s mag mixed in with all the other women’s mags at any bookstore or newstand, where only women will be looking for it. You can find (I assume) the other ‘O’ in finer adult bookshops where mostly men are shopping, and no one would expect to find Oprah’s version there. Even in the larger urban bookstores that might also feature ‘adult’ material, they certainly won’t be sharing shelf space.

  4. Even if there is no confusion, there is STILL some damage to the trade mark. I mean, if you are shopping for erotica and see something that reminds you of Oprah, EVEN IF THERE IS NO CONFUSION you might be considerably less likely to buy!

  5. Dammit. No wonder I couldn’t find the recipes by Oprah’s personal chef.

  6. I’d be pretty pissed if I bought something expecting to see whips and chains and instead got decorating tips and Dr. Phil.

  7. If the case *had* gone the other way, can you imagine the uproar? It’s a letter of the alphabet!

    As always, hysterical columnists and bloggers the world over would be suggesting other cases. Would a narcissistic porn magazine have trouble with a periodical devoted to opthamologists worldwide if they were both called “I”?

  8. not sadomasochistic!

    has he even seen Oprah’s magazine!

  9. Hmmm, and I always thought that whip-bearing women were empowered.

  10. Something tells me if it was Oprah complaining that an erotic mag was tarnishing her image, the case would have not only been heard, but Oprah would have won it. Even though you can easily tell the difference between them.

  11. I’ll agree with any ruling that prevents anyone from having to see a “whip weilding Ophra in erotic settings”!!!!!

  12. Maybe the original “O” magazine should change it’s name to “Ms.” Since no one would ever confuse the two, I’m sure the subsequent lawsuit would be tossed in the same fashion.

  13. Additional evidence of no confusion: I found this out researching a bit for my blog. Oprah’s magazine has been on the stand since 2000 and she’s published 20 issues. Every single issue has her face on the cover. One issue has her on there seven times. I doubt very much that anyone will confuse her grille with some woman in an S&M party suit.

  14. Following up on Joe’s comment, perhaps the magazine should be entitled “O: The Oprah Winfrey Magazine, featuring Oprah Winfrey, brought to you by Oprah Winfrey”

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