Will.i.am, Pharrell, Trademarks And Ham, Sam I Am

from the facepalm-i-am dept

We've written in the past about will.i.am, the oft-spectacled member of The Black Eyed Fergies. In particular, he has been known in the past to be somewhat lax in the realm of intellectual property laws and rights. That's to his credit. On the other hand, his recent overprotective nature in the matter of trademarks is disheartening, though admittedly entertaining. See, will.i.am apparently holds trademarks on the phrase "I am" covering clothing goods. Pharrell Williams' company, I Am Other Entertainment, attempted to register the mark "I Am Other" with the USPTO, prompting a cease and desist from will.i.am and his company I.Am.Symbolic. In return, Pharrell filed for a declaratory judgement seeking to affirm that no infringement has occurred.

It's in that document that the absurdity of all of this begins. Pharrell focuses on how will.i.am attempted to get the mark registered for products like jewelry and accessories, but was rejected due to similarity with already-existing marks. Then, Pharrell's filing drags beloved children's book writer Dr. Seuss into the mix, because why the shit not?

Pharrell Williams also points to popular culture, from Dr. Seuss' use of the words "Sam I am" from the book Green Eggs and Ham to the long list of other musicians who have put "I Am" to use. For example, there's Beyonce's 2008 album, I Am…, as well as the 146 artists (I Am Virgin, I Am Ghost, I Am Band …) counted by the plaintiff on AllMusic.com.

"Thus, the I AM formative is diluted in the music industry, and Defendants cannot preclude others from using that phrase especially when it is used in conjunction with additional, distinctive words," says the lawsuit.
And, the ridiculousness of mentioning Dr. Seuss aside, it's hard not to see his point. There's a great deal of folks in the music business making use of the phrase in a variety of ways. Beyond that, "I am" is one of those English language conventions that's a bit hard to do without, and equally difficult to associate with anyone in particular for that very reason. What I'm saying is that anyone that hears the phrase "I am" coming out of a musicians mouth or company and immediately decides that it must be will.i.am's product needs to be taken away somewhere, preferably a dark and quiet room, and have a few things about life and language explained to them, likely in the most brutal way possible.

will.i.am disagrees, however, stating that because Pharrell made the mistake a while back of collaborating with him on some music projects, confusion is inevitable.
Yes, there might be others who use "I Am," but will.i.am is famous, has invested in a "family" of marks (I Am Scholarship, I Am Home, I Am Angel, etc.), and has collaborated with Pharrell Williams in the past, which might lead consumers to believe that "I Am Entertainment" represents another such collaboration.
Right, because anyone that's done a duet with will.i.am must hitherto be a collaborator anytime they use the phrase "I am." Never mind that Pharrell's "I Am Other" mark appears to go out of its way to create disassociation. Never mind that this is likely one of the most common phrases in the English language. No, we're all to be confused between one hip hop star and another. Morons in a hurry...all of us.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 4:11pm

    unreal!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 4:28pm

    If you Google "I Am", Will.I.Am ranks below God. Just saying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 10th, 2013 @ 4:36pm

    Re:

    Just wait 'til Google gets the C&D.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jul 10th, 2013 @ 5:29pm

    Well, i.am confused as to how who this guy is, to be honest. I probably couldn't identify a single piece of his music if you asked me to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 5:51pm

    Why isn't will.i.am just suing Pharell over Pharrell's last name? The similarity is certainly disconcerting to a moron-in-a-hurry!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    OldGeezer (profile), Jul 10th, 2013 @ 5:52pm

    God has them beat by around 4000 years. In Exodus 3:13 he told Moses "And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you." Christ made reference to this and was accused of blasphemy in John 8:58 when he said "before Abraham was, I AM."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Krish (profile), Jul 10th, 2013 @ 6:13pm

    entitled.i.am

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 6:22pm

    “I am what I am” -Popeye the Sailor Man
    Was that Will.I.am in the movie? if so, likely the best music he ever made!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8TRoMSG-5I

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 6:59pm

    i.am uninterested

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Matthew S (profile), Jul 10th, 2013 @ 7:20pm

    I'm not aware of too many things

    I know what I know, if you know what I mean.

    what.i.am is what.i.am

    Are you what.you.are, or what?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    The Old Man in The sea, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 7:51pm

    I thought it was "Be kind to Morons Week"

    What I'm saying is that anyone that hears the phrase "I am" coming out of a musicians mouth or company and immediately decides that it must be will.i.am's product needs to be taken away somewhere, preferably a dark and quiet room, and have a few things about life and language explained to them, likely in the most brutal way possible.


    Tim, be nice. Even though Will.i.am may deserve this as the only person who is thinking this, it is "Be kind to Morons Week".

    Let him be his own little storm in his own little teacup. There are far more serious things to worry about - like Sweet Little Kev and the ALP leadership worries.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    OldGeezer (profile), Jul 10th, 2013 @ 8:42pm

    Re:

    Technically correct, but Popeye's expression was more like "I yam what I yam"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 11:26pm

    Looks like both of them owe royalties to Gregory A. Roach.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), Jul 11th, 2013 @ 12:48am

    Maybe René Descartes estate should have a nice little word to will.i.am a;long the lines of

    "hey noob!!!

    In around 1644 our ancestor wrote out what has been described as the absolute fundamental element of western philosophy that encompassed the phrase cogito ergo sum or in English "I think therefore I AM"

    We would posit that it should be expanded upon to now say

    I think... therefore I am NOT will.i.am

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Spartacus.i.am, Jul 11th, 2013 @ 1:32am

    I am Spartacus

    No! I am Bradley Manning! Oh damn it. Je suis un Rockstar. What am i allowed to put on my t shirt? oh no that question used 'am I'! I bet that's been copyrighted too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Jul 11th, 2013 @ 2:42am

    "I am iron man
    Has he lost his mind
    Can he see or is he blind or
    Can he walk at all or if he moves will he fall
    Is he alive or dead has he thoughts with in his head
    Well just pass him there why should we even care"
    http://www.metrolyrics.com/iron-man-lyrics-ozzy-osbourne.html

    https://www.youtube.com/watc h?v=9LjbMVXj0F8

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Aussiegeoff, Jul 11th, 2013 @ 3:08am

    Some on which he can trademark

    Dufus I Am and Dumbshit I Am.

    I, er we am sure no-one else would want them or wish to be identified with them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jul 11th, 2013 @ 3:42am

    Re: Re:

    Hmmm.. If Moses received the Commandments in stone tablets will God send the C&D notice to Google in an iPad for some Heavenly lulz?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jul 11th, 2013 @ 3:46am

    Re:

    Too much Biblical references to bear! And oh the lulz. Go read "The Lamb" from mr Moore for some serious Biblical laughs ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jul 11th, 2013 @ 3:52am

    Ninja is wondering about it

    And thus people started using the 3rd person. Until, of course, "The Rock" sued for trademark. Hilarity ensued.

    Misaka approves! (reference: Toaru Majutsu no Index)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    martyburns (profile), Jul 11th, 2013 @ 5:32am

    Re: I'm not aware of too many things

    I'm not aware of too many things

    I.am not aware of too many things.

    FTFY

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jul 11th, 2013 @ 5:40am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Rats! You guys got ahead of me. This is funny, though. Next up: Will.I.Am sues Bible publishers and the estate of Cecil B. DeMille for repeated uses of his trademark.

    Popcorn, anyone?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Nick Burns (profile), Jul 11th, 2013 @ 10:21am

    I.am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    ShellMG, Jul 11th, 2013 @ 10:51am

    Re:

    Nononono, that was "I YAM what I YAM." As in sweet potatoes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2013 @ 4:05pm

    i.am.and.i.Will.trademark.this

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jul 13th, 2013 @ 4:38pm

    Re:

    He shouldn't have left it unfinished. "I think therefore I am". He was WHAT? Guess he died before he found out or something.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 13th, 2013 @ 4:40pm

    I thought it was...

    Is he alive or dead?
    Who cares, as long as he can still give head.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    IAM Entertainment, Sep 15th, 2013 @ 4:17pm

    A Magazine owns I AM ENTERTAINMENT

    Pharell had to put "Other" in the term because I Am Entertainment MAGAZINE owns the trademark to "I Am Entertainment".

    Besides...isn't Pharell's last name Williams? LOL

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This