Will.i.am and Pharrell Williams in Legal Battle over Music
It’s certainly not rare to hear about some kind of disagreement transpiring between recording artists. And sometimes, when matters cannot be amicably handled, they end up becoming frontline news fodder that results in a lawsuit, or at the very least, a cease and desist attempt.
Unfortunately, this would appear to be the case between Black Eyed Peas front man Will.i.am and mega-producer Pharrell Williams.
In some ways, the issue seems to be a bit confusing, at best. Here’s the deal: Will.i.am has recently taken issue with the fact that Williams has sought to launch a new website that goes by the name “i am OTHER”. From Will.i.am’s perspective, by using that name (we’re assuming that it’s not just the “i am” that is the problem, but also that it has a lower-cased “i am” within the title too), he feels that fans of Will.i.am will assume that it’s actually a site (and YouTube channel) that he is running rather than Williams.
On the other hand, according to Williams, Will.i.am doesn’t have much of a case in this matter being that he has what Williams’ is calling a “weak trademark” on the phrase “i.am”; that since Will.i.am only trademarked it for clothing, he doesn’t automatically have a monopoly on it being used in other formats. Plus, according to Williams’ attorney, there are numerous other registered trademarks for “i.am”, ones that existed well before Williams’ concept surfaced.
Reportedly, in response to the first cease and desist letter that Williams’ received, he stated that his “i am OTHER” website would not cause fans to be confused and honestly, if there were other people to argue his point, it’s relatively easy to see how Williams’ could come to this conclusion. One example of another artist who used “I Am” that immediately comes to mind is Beyonce’ when she released her LP “I Am…Sasha Fierce” back in 2008. It went on to sell millions of records during the time when the Black Eyed Peas were far more relevant (to the music charts) than they are now. Yet no one took issue with “I AM” in that instance.
And so, for Will.i.am to now feel that another artist, ironically, with the same name as him (just as a last name rather than a first one) is infringing on his own rights by using the phrase, it does seem to be a bit…odd. Intriguing. Fascinating. But also, yes, odd.
As a matter of fact, it is becoming so much of an issue that Dr. Seuss has even been brought into the matter. It is Williams’ belief that Will.i.am is a bit of a play on words such as Dr. Seuss’ book “Green Eggs and Ham”, while his use of the phrase is coming from an entirely different creative space.
Perhaps both Will.i.am and Williams should ask a promotional company like SonicBids what their thoughts are because no matter how this turns out, keeping the “Williams” straight, as it relates to this matter, is a marketing challenge.
Which, ironically, appears to be Will.i.am’s entire point in the first place.
Yes, it will definitely be interesting to see how this legal battle turns out—which one will be able to say (pardon the pun) “I am victorious” regarding this matter. Stay tuned.