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November 11, 2009

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MUTUAL OF OMAHA AND OPRAH REACH AN AGREEMENT

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Insurance company Mutual of Omaha has decided to settle its lawsuit against Oprah Winfrey’s production company over rights to the phrase “aha moment,” reports the Associated Press.

Details of the agreement were not disclosed, however, Mutual spokesman Jim Nolan and spokeswoman Angela DePaul of Winfrey’s Harpo Productions Inc. said Monday that the case was resolved amicably.

The legal dispute started earlier this year after Mutual began using the slogan “official sponsor of the aha moment” in a national advertising campaign. The company sent a crew to 25-cities where they collected video stories of people describing a turning point in their lives. Visitors to Mutual’s Web site helped the insurance company pick ten of the “aha” stories to appear in television commercials.

Winfrey’s representatives argued in April that the phrase was synonymous with the TV host and her show. Winfrey often discusses “aha moments” — described on her magazine’s Web site as “those flashes of understanding” — with guests on her show.

Harpo asked Mutual in a letter to stop using “aha moment” to promote its insurance and financial products because it didn’t want confusion about whether there was a relationship between Mutual and Winfrey.

Mutual responded with the lawsuit and documents showing it had obtained preliminary approval of a federal trademark. The insurance company said it conceived its slogan in February 2008 and unveiled the Web site http://www.ahamoment.com a year later. It began researching trademark rights to “aha moment” in July 2008 and filed an application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that August. Mutual said no opposition was made to its trademark application, and preliminary approval was granted in April.

Mutual originally asked the court for a legal declaration allowing it to use the slogan and pronouncing that Mutual has not infringed on Harpo’s or Winfrey’s rights, but Harpo never filed a formal response to Mutual’s lawsuit.

In other Oprah news, the Connecticut woman who was mauled and blinded after a 200-pound chimpanzee attacked her in February is set to appear on today’s episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Charla Nash’s hands, nose, lips and eyelids were ripped off by the animal as she tried to lure it back into a cage at her friend’s house. Harpo said Nash will discuss how she’s adjusting, how she maintains her spirit, and what the future holds.

On Friday’s show, “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer will appear for what she says will be her only interview tied to the film release of “New Moon.” Meyer wrote on her blog, “I am so pleased and amazed and thrilled with what Chris Weitz has done with New Moon that I want to talk about it, and to show my support for him. And since I’m only doing one interview, better make it big. Really big.”

She also writes that the questions she’s planning on fielding on the show are “designed for a broader audience than just die-hard ‘Twilight’ fans.”

In one more Oprah bit, it was revealed that the wife of Hezbollah’s Ammar Mousawi is a fan of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” At the end of a lengthy interview about politics, Israel and other topics, Huffington Post writer Sharmine Narwani asked Hezbollah’s foreign relations chief if there were any American television shows that he admires?

“My wife likes the Oprah show, and I watch it with her sometimes,” he said. “Oprah seems to cover some interesting topics of social value.”


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