Will.i.am and Pharrell Argue Green Eggs and Ham in Trademark Lawsuit over I AM

By Joseph Mandour on July 23, 2013

California Trademark LawOrange County – Hip-hop artists Will.i.am and Pharrell Williams are embattled in a court fight over claims to the trademark “I am.”

Contention has arisen between the two over Pharrell Williams’ development of I Am Other Entertainment, LLC.  The company has formed a website and YouTube channel to sponsor and distribute music, apparel and technology that promote creative thought.

The company has filed eight trademark applications for I AM OTHER in a wide variety of classes, including clothing, cosmetics and entertainment production.

Will.i.am, whose legal name is William Adams, and his corporation i.am.symbolic, LLC, filed oppositions to all of I Am Other’s trademarks on the basis that they are too similar to his trademark and would lead to a likelihood of confusion among consumers.  The Black Eyed Peas front man holds trademarks for I AM for clothing, electronics accessories and entertainment services.

Will.i.am sent I Am Other a letter in late June, demanding it cease and desist all use of the I Am Other trademark.  The company responded, disputing the claims of infringement, and filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York against Will.i.am.

I Am Other is seeking court approval for its use of “I am Other” as distinct from Will.i.am’s trademark, “I am.”  I Am Other is also advocating that the U.S. Trademark Office limit the scope of Will.i.am’s trademark to I AM.

In its complaint, I Am Other cited the Dr. Seuss classic, Green Eggs and Ham, as analogous to Will.i.am’s use of I am.  I Am Other argues that like “Sam I am / I am Sam,” Will.i.am means to convey “I am Will” with his moniker Will.i.am.  By contrast, I Am Other argues that its ‘I am Other” means “I am something else.”

The I Am Other complaint also notes the weakness of the “I am” trademark, noting the multitude of other trademarks containing “I am” in relation to similar goods.

Will.i.am counters that his previous collaborations with Pharrel Williams could lead consumers to believe that “I am Other” is a continuation of previous collaborations.

Pharrell Williams, who is known simply as Pharrell onstage, has been featured on two recent hit songs, including Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke.

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