Pharrell Williams filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court Monday asking a judge to rule that he did not violate will.i.am’s “I AM” trademark.
Pharell recently launched “i am OTHER,” which he describes as a “cultural movement dedicated to Thinkers, Innovators and Outcasts.” He also launched a YouTube channel under the brand as part of the company’s $100 million original channel initiative.
But will.i.am — real name William Adams — claimed that he owned the copyright to the phrase “I am” and filed a notice of opposition against Pharrell. He also claimed that the “i am OTHER” logo was “confusingly similar” to his logo.
Pharrell said that he was disappointed that a fellow artist would file a suit against him.
“I am someone who likes to talk things out and, in fact, I attempted to do just that on many occasions,” he said. “I am surprised in how this is being handled and I am confident that Will’s trademark claims will ultimately be found to be as meritless and ridiculous as I do.”
will.i.am quickly clarified the incident by tweeting that he wasn’t suing Pharrell, and his lawyer, Ken Hertz, explained that the former Black Eyed Peas rapper “has an obligation under trademark law to monitor and defend his trademarks against confusingly similar marks.”
Pharrell’s lawsuit stated that the trademarks owned by his company, I Am Other Entertainment, do not have periods between the “i” and “am,” as the trademarks owned by will.i.am do. The lawsuit also claimed that will.i.am’s trademark covers clothing and is “relatively weak” because similar trademarks already exist.
Pharrell’s counsel, Brad Rose, said that the lawsuit is asking the court the declare that “I am OTHER” does not “infringe, dilute or unfairly compete” with will.i.am’s trademark.
The producer and rapper added, “In contrast, the I Am Other mark means ‘I am something else,’ leaving what that ‘else’ is to the imagination of the consumer. It certainly does not mean ‘I am Will.'”
What do you think of the legal battle between Pharrell and will.i.am?