California Trademark Attorney® Blog

Pharrell Williams and Will.i.am Call it Quits in Trademark Fight

March 17, 2014

music.jpgCalifornia - Two of hip hop's biggest names have called a truce in their headline-making legal dispute. Pharrell Williams and Will.i.am recently came to a formal agreement in a trademark infringement conflict. While the exact terms are undisclosed, the settlement ensures that no further legal action will be taken by either party.

The dispute centered over use of the phrase "I Am" and was officially initiated when Will.i.am brought an opposition against Williams for his application to trademark the phrase "I Am Other." The N.E.R.D member fought back, pointing out that his term does not incorporate a period as in Will.i.am and by claiming that the Black Eyed Pea bandmate had no right to exclusively use such a common phrase as "I am."

Williams originally filed his trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the summer of 2012. Though he has noted that his "I am Other" brand is meant to encapsulate his "creative venture and way of life", he filed in classes pertaining to music production, apparel and jewelry. Once the application published, Will.i.am. filed a Notice of Opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, claiming that consumers were likely to confuse the name with his own moniker as well as his company name, I.Am.Symbolic.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Williams recently expressed his distaste over the whole issue, terming it "ridiculous" and saying that he was disappointed that Will.i.am had never attempted to resolve the issue with him out of court. After being bombarded with bad press for starting the fight, Will.i.am's lawyers issued a formal statement making it clear that the artist had not sued Pharrell Williams, but that he had simply " done ... what any trademark owner must do to protect and maintain a trademark," in filing an opposition against the registration of William's trademark Application.

The lawyer went on to defend his client's actions by stating, "due to deadlines imposed by the Trademark Office, will.i.am had no choice but to lodge his objection at the time he did." For his part, Will.i.am seemed to agree with his legal team and then turned attention to his more admirable charity ventures, tweeting, "i.am not suing @Pharrell & i never was. what i.am doing is #iamHOME helping families keep their homes... see iamANGELfoundation.org."