oprah

An entrepreneur has officially filed a trademark lawsuit against Oprah Winfrey and her OWN network suggesting that Winfrey is using his trademark to promote a new show.  Rick Smiciklas is suggesting that OWN’s use of the title “Wingmen” for an upcoming show could cause confusion and do potential harm to the success of his own similarly titled reality show entitled Wing-men.

Smiciklas has both Wing-men (the title of a reality show based on the success of his chicken wing focused restaurant business) and Wingmen trademarked in Canada and he has a pending application for a trademark for both in the US.  The fact that both the title of and a very close variation of OWN’s upcoming show are trademarked and currently in use might make it seem like his suit would be an “open and shut” case, but the legal system may not have that same viewpoint.

There are a few potential issues that Smiciklas and his team are facing when it comes to this copyright infringement lawsuit.  Firstly – the lawsuit has been filed in Illinois and the successful entrepreneur currently does not hold a trademark on the name in question in the US.  Secondly – the OWN network has already begun promotions for their show using the mark Wingmen and production is currently under way, so it may be too late even for a successful lawsuit to completely put the brakes on OWN’s efforts.

While hard facts and definitive evidence reign supreme in the legal system, there are a number of intricate subtleties involved in a copyright infringement lawsuit.  Timing, copyright category and location can all play a role in the court system’s ultimate decision when it comes to this type of case and even a successful filing might not yield the exact desired result for a complainant.  If you have questions regarding copyright infringement or are considering filing a copyright claim in the state of California (whether your claim falls under the entertainment category as above or if someone else is using your mark to promote their local business to drive their sales) you need a qualified and experienced Los Angeles business attorney on your side.

Federal and state laws prohibit copyright infringement, which can include the misappropriation, passing off, piracy, or counterfeiting of works of movies, music, art, writings, photographs, recordings, and other tangible expressions.  When a copyright holder sues a user of the work for infringement, the user may argue in defense that the use was not infringement but “fair use.” Under the fair use doctrine, it is not an infringement to use the copyrighted works of another in some circumstances, such as for commentary, criticism, news reporting, or educational use. The defense generally depends on a case-by-case judgment of the facts.

Axis Legal Counsel offers aggressive representation to copyright, trademark, patent, and other intellectual property rights holders involved in infringement or intellectual property disputes, whether connected to the entertainment industry or technology sector. Axisassists clients in applying for intellectual property protection as well as litigating disputes. Axis’s managing attorney Rabeh M. A. Soofi is ranked as one of the “Top Women Lawyers of Southern California” by SuperLawyers, and counsels clients in need of legal counsel for copyright and copyright disputes.

For information on retaining Axis Legal Counsel for legal advice on any intellectual property dispute, contact info@axislegalca.com or call (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation about your legal issue.