Chicago (ANI): Talk show host Oprah Winfrey has filed a federal trademark-infringement suit against 40 peddlers of dietary supplements. Winfrey, 55, alleges that Internet marketers are using her name without permission, and filed the suit through her corporate vehicle, Harpo Inc. on August 19.
Her people are said to have aided an investigation by Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan that led to three lawsuits against makers and marketers of dietary supplements made from acai berries. During her shows, Winfrey would feature segments about foods or products that can lead to better health, and the shows often included appearances by Dr. Mehmet Oz.
According to Marc Rachman, an attorney for Harpo, last year, after Oz praised the anti-aging properties of the acai berry, Internet marketers began to sell acai products with implications that Winfrey or Oz had endorsed them. But, as it turns out, neither has ever sponsored such a product or any other that involved health benefits. “The subject is discussed on the show, then the scams start. It"s brazen," the Chicago Tribune quoted Rachman as saying.
Rachman revealed that of all the products, the acai berry had been the main target, and Winfrey"s Web site had had to field more than 2,000 complaints related to it. Some involve viewers who mistakenly believed that a product was actually endorsed by Oz or Winfrey; while others are from consumers who felt they"d been defrauded.