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Pharrell sues will.i.am over the phrase 'i am,' quotes Dr. Seuss

Patents, Copyrights and TrademarksMusic IndustryTelevision IndustryABCBlack Eyed Peas (music group)Robin ThickeNetflix Inc.

Musician and producer Pharrell Williams is asking a New York court to rule that he has not infringed on any trademarks for the phrase "I am."

According to a complaint filed Monday in New York, Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am has sent Williams cease and desist letters to stop him from using the phrase for his "i am OTHER" website and YouTube channel.

Lawyers for will.i.am said in the original letter, sent last year, that "the use of the term "I AM" is likely to cause visitors to the website to believe" that will.i.am is affiliated with the site. 

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Williams, a member of hip-hop duo the Neptunes, has contributed vocals to two massive summer hits, Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." 

Williams' complaint argues that Will.i.am, whose given name is William Adams, has a "relatively weak" trademark claim in this case. He currently only has trademarks for the phrase's use on clothing, and there are already multiple registered trademarks for other uses of the phrase, the lawsuit said. 

"The complaint seeks a declaration from the Federal Court in New York that i am OTHER does not infringe, dilute or unfairly compete with will.i.am or any of Mr. Adams' alleged "I AM " trademarks," said Brad Rose, Williams' attorney, in a statement. 

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In a response to the first cease and desist letter, Williams argued that the "i am OTHER" mark is "not confusingly similar" to the will.i.am trademark.

The response suggested will.i.am's mark is a play on his given name and is similar to the use of language by Dr. Seuss in "Green Eggs and Ham." "I Am Other" is a different kind of wordplay, Williams argued.

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ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

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