Will.i.am's legal action against Pharrell Williams isn't a lawsuit, his lawyer says. Rolling Stone obtained court documents in which the Los Angeles native accused Williams of stealing his "I Am" moniker for "i am OTHER."
Williams launched his "i am OTHER" multimedia imprint in May, as a platform to showcase new artists. Will.i.am claims to have copyright over "I AM" and believes the Neptunes producer is infringing on his brand.
In an email to Hip-Hop Wired, attorney Ken Hertz cleared up the reports.
will.i.am is not suing Pharrell Williams. What will.i.am has done is what any trademark owner must do to protect and maintain a trademark. Our client is following the standard procedures of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to defend trademarks that have been registered and that he has used widely and continuously for many years. This is a run-of-the-mill trademark procedure that has been going on since late last year.
will.i.am has registered several trademarks, including "I AM", which is also emphasized in, and a significant element of, his professional and trademarked name. He has been using the “I AM” mark in connection with various goods, services and philanthropic activities for more than a decade. Furthermore, our client is in the process of registering other marks that include the words “I AM” - and building a family of “I AM” marks, such as “I AM ANGEL” that operates numerous charitable and social assistance programs, including i.am.home, i.am.scholarship, and i.am.STEAM. He also uses the “I AM” mark in the names of his various business entities, such as i.am.bizzy, llc, i.am.on.tour, inc., i.am.symbolic, llc, and so on.
Like many trademark owners, we use third party “watch” services to monitor new uses of, and new applications to register, similar marks. The applications are published by the Trademark Office before being approved for registration to allow existing trademark owners an opportunity to object. Prior to lodging our objection with the Trademark Office, will.i.am's trademark lawyer reached out to Pharrell's trademark lawyer in an attempt to resolve the dispute, and the parties discussed the matter for several months. Unfortunately, due to deadlines imposed by the Trademark Office, will.i.am had no choice but to lodge his objection at the time he did.
This is how the process works. We own a trademark. They have applied for a trademark. We think their proposed trademark is too close to our registered and common law trademarks. They disagree.
We hope to work out a sensible compromise that will allow both parties to move forward without unnecessary acrimony.
Skateboard P said he was "disappointed" by Will's legal claims, all of which he has denied.