Will.i.am is taking legal action against Pharrell's "i am OTHER" brand and logo.
Well, this is strange, but typical in the music industry. Will.i.am has filed a notice of opposition against Pharrell's "i am OTHER" brand for utilizing "I AM," a phrase he says he has copyrighted, and on top of this, Pharrell's logo is "confusingly similar," according to court documents.
RollingStone reports that Will thinks that Pharrell using his "i am OTHER" branding on merchandise and clothing will look very similar to Will.i.am's "I AM" branding on his own goods. "The registration of the mark . . . is likely to dilute the I AM mark and the Will.i.am mark," the court documents read.
Pharrrel and lawyers for "i am OTHER" have filed a response to Will's notice of opposition, denying his claims.
"I am disappointed that Will, a fellow artist, would file a case against me," Pharrell said in a statement. "I am someone who likes to talk things out and, in fact, I attempted to do just that on many occasions. 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 has not commented on the legal situation.
[UPDATE: Will.i.am's lawyer responds]
Yesterday we reported on Will.i.am taking legal action against Pharrell's "i am OTHER" brand for utilizing his copyrighted "I AM" phrase. It seems many people thought that Will was actually suing Pharrell over it, but as we reported, he only filed a notice of opposition.
It appears Pharrell is trying to copyright his own "i am OTHER" phrase, and Will already has copyrighted "I AM," and so he deems "i am OTHER" too similar.
As Will's lawyer, Ken Hertz, explained in a simple fashion, "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."
Read the entire explanation from Ken Hertz, via HHW, below.
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.