When Trademark Registration Hits a Sour Note

When Trademark Registration Hits a Sour NoteBlack Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am wasn’t singing “Happy” when he sought legal action against Oscar-nominated music producer Pharrell Williams. Will.i.am accused his fellow musician of not respecting the intellectual property rights of others while alluding to an ongoing dispute Pharrell and Robin Thicke are having with Marvin Gaye over the hit song “Blurred Lines.”

Will.i.am’s gripe stemmed from a trademark application Pharrell filed to secure his interest in his brand I AM OTHER. In their own words: “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’ or in any way suggest defendants’ or the will.i.am mark.” All that can be translated to mean: consumers looking at goods bearing Pharrell’s I AM OTHER would likely confuse them as originating from will.i.am.

In his his defense, Williams asserted will.i.am would have a hard time proving he controlled the “I Am” trademark pointing out the existence of the famed Dr. Seuss character Sam I Am as well as the 146 other artists who use the “I Am” construction in their monikers. The parties ultimately settled outside of court though Pharrell commented he found the whole thing “ridiculous” telling Rolling Stone Magazine, “I am disappointed that Will, a fellow artist, would file a case against me,” he said. “I am someone who likes to talk things out and, in fact, I attempted to do just that on many occasions.”

Share your opinion on this trademark law issue with us! And, as always, if you have any patent, trademark, copyright, or other intellectual property related questions, don’t hesitate to contact us by calling: (310) 276-6664. 

The Omni Legal Group was founded in Los Angeles, California by Omid Khalifeh. Mr. Khalifeh is a published attorney who has experience dealing with a wide variety of intellectual property issues. He has worked on matters for Fortune 500 companies and represents clients in disputes involving copyrightstrademarkspatents, trade secrets, and cyberlaw disputes. Mr. Khalifeh received his Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles and his Juris Doctorate from the Chapman University School of Law where he was awarded a full tuition scholarship to attend. He is the author of The Gene Wars: Science, the Law and the Human Genome (Loyola Law Review) and has been invited to speak at conferences across the country about changes in intellectual property law.