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Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo Of Super-Producer Group “The Neptunes” In Legal Dispute Over Rights to Name

Updated: May 6

As reported by Variety, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, the duo behind the Neptunes, have been in a legal dispute over the group's name. According to reports, Hugo's lawyers have accused Williams of trying to gain "fraudulent" control over the Neptunes' trademarks, which they claim goes against their agreement to split everything equally. While Pharrell has become a superstar over the years, with hits like "Happy" and "Freedom," Hugo has kept a lower profile. The pair have been friends since childhood and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2022.

“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.

“By ignoring and excluding [Hugo] from the any and all applications filed by applicant for the mark ‘The Neptunes,’ applicant has committed fraud in securing the trademarks and acted in bad faith.”

Williams has filed three applications to register "The Neptunes" as a trademark, one for streaming music, another for music videos and other content, and a third for live performances. Hugo's lawyers claim that Williams had filed those applications without Hugo's input, which they say is a violation of their agreement. Hugo’s lawyers claim that Williams had “knowingly and intentionally” filed those applications without Hugo’s input: “Nothing, either written or oral, provided Williams or [PW IP Holdings] with the unilateral authority to register the trademarks.” The lawyers claim they have “repeatedly” contacted Williams’ team about the matter and tallege that Williams' representatives have admitted that Hugo is an equal co-owner of the trademarks, but Williams' company insisted on "onerous business terms" that would deprive Hugo of proper control and compensation.

In response, a representative for Pharrell said: “Pharrell is surprised by this. We have reached out on multiple occasions to share in the ownership and administration of the trademark and will continue to make that offer. The goal here was to make sure a third party doesn’t get a hold of the trademark and to guarantee Chad and Pharrell share in ownership and administration.”

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