Will.i.am Denies Suing Pharrell Over Copyright Claim

Lawyer says action is a 'run-of-the-mill trademark procedure'

Will.i.am
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Will.i.am
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A lawyer for will.i.am has responded to what he calls "misinformation" surrounding the Black Eyed Peas leader's copyright claim against Pharrell Williams' new "i am OTHER" brand. In a statement, attorney Ken Hertz said that his client is not suing Pharrell, but is engaging in a "run-of-the-mill trademark procedure" in order to "defend trademarks that have been registered and that [will.i.am] has used widely and continuously for many years."

Will.i.am owns the copyright to the phrase "I AM" and claims that Pharrell's new brand is "confusingly similar" and that the "i am OTHER" logo would appear on goods in a manner similar to those that bear will.i.am's mark. "The registration of the mark . . . is likely to dilute the I AM mark and the WILL.I.AM mark," the document reads.

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"I am disappointed that Will, a fellow artist, would file a case against me," Pharrell told Rolling Stone. "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."

In his own statement though, Hertz said that will.i.am's trademark lawyer reached out to Pharrell's after a third-party "watch" service alerted them to the registration of a similar mark about a year ago. Though the two attorneys attempted to resolve the dispute over several months, Hertz says Trademark Office deadlines forced will.i.am to lodge an official objection.

"This is how the process works," Hertz said. "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."

UPDATE: Pharrell's attorney, Brad Rose, has issued a statement in response to Hertz's claim. "The statements made by Will and his advisors over the past two days amount to revisionist history in the face of the public condemnation against Will that has resulted after this story broke yesterday," says Rose. "The plain truth is that Will has obstructed every overture made by Pharrell to amicably resolve this matter and has steadfastly refused to engage in a dialogue. Will and his trademark counsel have instituted no less than eight cases against Pharrell in the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and have also threatened on more than one occasion to sue Pharrell for trademark infringement in Federal District Court for damages and an injunction. All of this because Will misguidedly believes that he has the sole right to the words I AM in commerce, notwithstanding the myriad of I Am compound trademarks that coexist on the trademark register and in the marketplace."