March 11, 2014 10:54am PT by Eriq Gardner
Pharrell Williams, will.i.am Settle Trademark Dispute (Exclusive)
The legal battle between Pharrell Williams and will.i.am over "I Am Other" is over. The two sides have reached a settlement, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The fight started at the U.S. Trademark Office where Williams' company attempted to register "I Am Other." That brought an objection from the Black Eyed Peas frontman and his own I.Am.Symbolic company.
Last July, Williams filed a lawsuit in New York federal court seeking a declaratory judgment of trademark noninfringement. With trademarks serving the purpose of protecting against confusion, the plaintiff looked primed to make the argument that the mark in question expressly disclaimed an association between the pop stars.
According to the lawsuit, "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."
Williams also made an argument that will.i.am's hold over "I Am" trademarks on clothing goods and other accessories was weak. The plaintiff pointed to rejections by a trademark examiner, Dr. Seuss' use of the words "Sam I am" from the book Green Eggs and Ham, and at least 146 artists (I Am Virgin, I Am Ghost, I Am Band …) using derivations of "I Am" as their band moniker.
The lawsuit then brought an interesting counterclaim from will.i.am, who attempted to use Pharrell Williams' involvement in a lawsuit over Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," along with Williams' co-founding of a record label called Star Trak Entertainment, as evidence of disrespect for intellectual property.
But there won't be any consumer surveys about which artist is most closely associated with "I Am Other" nor any jury trial, after the parties informed a judge that they had reached an agreement in principle. The two sides are now drafting the settlement agreement. Terms aren't known, as the lawyers couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Last year, Williams said he thought the situation was "ridiculous" and said he was a guy "who likes to talk things out."
Appears he has.