Pharrell and Chad Hugo in Legal Battle Over ‘Neptunes’ Trademark

The two co-founded the songwriting and production duo in 1992.

Music
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Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo launched their songwriting and production duo project, The Neptunes, in 1992. Originally, the two childhood friends were working out of their hometown of Virginia Beach after meeting at summer camp.

By the late 1990s, Williams and Hugo had co-produced their first few hits. In the ensuing years, they went on to produce for Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Kelis, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and more.

On Monday, Hugo’s lawyers filed a case against Williams, arguing that the star was attempting to unjustly trademark The Neptunes’ name, Billboard reported first. If approved, the trademarks would give Williams sole control over the name, “fraudulently” cutting Hugo out and violating their alleged agreement to split everything evenly.

“Throughout their over thirty year history, [Hugo] and Williams agreed to, and in fact, have divided all assets,” Hugo’s attorney Kenneth D. Freundlich wrote, according to Billboard. “By ignoring and excluding [Hugo] from any and all applications filed by the applicant for the mark ‘The Neptunes,’ the applicant has committed fraud in securing the trademarks and acted in bad faith.”

The filings seek to trademark “The Neptunes” name when it comes to streaming, music videos and live performances. According to the suit, the trademarks were filed without Hugo’s knowledge.

Hugo’s attorneys are arguing that Williams’ company has acknowledged Hugo as the co-owner of the trademarks but is insisting that the producer comply with “onerous business terms” that would apparently impact his rights over the name and potentially his compensation for its future uses.

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