A bizarre exchange of “Yes I am,” “No I am not” between two giants of the music industry has taken yet another turn after Will.i.am denied reports that he is suing fellow American musician Pharrell Williams over his use of the phrase “I am”.
A statement from his lawyers seeking to address the “misinformation circulating about Will.i.am and the ‘I.am’ mark” succeeded only to confirm that the star is embroiled in a legal dispute with Pharrell over his use of the phrase – although he’s not technically suing.
Will.i.am’s attorney Ken Hertz confirmed that his client was “in a run-of-the-mill trademark dispute” with Pharrell which has been going on since late last year.
Hertz said the Black Eyed Peas frontman “has done what any trademark owner must do to protect and maintain a trademark” by lodging an objection with the US Trademark Office to Pharrell’s “i am OTHER” brand.
Will.i.am, who is also a judge on The Voice UK, tweeted yesterday: “I am not suing @Pharrell & I NEVER WAS.”
His lawyer outlined the action Will.i.am is taking in regard to Pharrell’s “I am OTHER”: “We own a trademark. They [Pharrell] have applied for a trademark. We think their proposed trademark is too close to our registered and common law trademarks. They disagree.”
Pharrell seems to think he is being sued, too. Speaking Rolling Stone magazine he said: “I am disappointed that Will, a fellow artist, would file a case against me. 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 claims to have used the “i.am” mark in connection with various businesses for around a decade. He is currently in the process of registering other “i.am” marks including “I am angel” and “i.am.STEAM”.
Pharrell set up his “i am OTHER” brand to promote talent online and said he was searching for a “diverse group of optimistic, bright minds”. Will.i.am also believes Pharrell’s logo is “confusingly similar” to his “i.am+” iPhone camera add-on, according to court documents.
Will.i.am has himself recently faced accusations of copyright infringement after producers Arty and Mat Zo accused him of sampling their song “Rebound” without their permission on his latest recording with singer Chris Brown.