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The Oddest Thing About Will.i.am's Trademark Claim Against Pharrell Williams

The two are fighting over "I Am Other" but have a few things in common.

Will.I.Am VS. Pharrell Split - H 2013
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The trademark battle between will.i.am and Pharrell Williams has gotten a little more bizarre.

In July, Williams' I Am Other Entertainment sought declaratory relief in New York federal court that "I Am Other" wasn't an infringement upon will.i.am's own registered marks.

So it's no surprise that will.i.am has now filed counterclaims (read here) that states the opposite, that consumers are likely to be confused. What's more interesting is how the Black Eyed Peas frontman seeks to use Williams' history on the intellectual property front. "This is not the first time that Mr. Williams and Plaintiff have coopted a trademark, logo or business name that bears striking resemblance to that of another," says the legal papers.

STORY: Pharrell Williams vs. will.i.am: What to Know About This Trademark Fight

Will.i.am's attorney cites a few examples:

  • "Mr. Williams claims to have co-founded a record label called STAR TRAK ENTERTAINMENT, which operates as a subsidiary of Universal Music Group whose releases are distributed by Interscope Records... The name STAR TRAK ENTERTAINMENT used by Mr. Williams is extremely close to the well known trademark STAR TREK owned by Paramount Pictures Corporation and/or CBS Studios."
  • "Another example is Mr. Williams’ use and attempted registration of the mark PINK SLIME, for use with various goods and services, which bears noticeable similarity to the mark SLIME, used for decades and owned by Mattel, Inc."
  • "Further, Plaintiff’s principal, Pharrell Williams, recently sued the heirs of Marvin Gaye and Bridgeport Music, Inc. ("BMI") (again in a declaratory judgment action) to determine the Marvin Gaye heirs' and BMI's claim of copyright infringement based on a song composed and/or performed by Pharrell Williams. Put another way, Pharrell Williams was accused of copyright infringement by Marvin Gaye's heirs and BMI, and Mr. Williams pre-emptively filed a declaratory judgment lawsuit to determine the alleged infringement of one of Marvin Gaye's songs."

That last one could be particularly interesting.

In the dispute over "Blurred Lines," Bridgeport asserts that the hit song of the summer produced by Williams infringes Funkadelic's "Sexy Ways," written by George Clinton and Funkadelic.

Who else was once sued over infringing a George Clinton song?

Yep, will.i.am. In 2010, Clinton sued will.i.am for allegedly sampling "(Not Just) Knee Deep" in remixes of the Black Eyed Peas' "Shut Up." (The case was settled in May of last year.)

Just another thing that will.i.am and Pharrell have in common.

E-mail: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner