Pharrell Williams & Chad Hugo Enter Legal Battle Over 'Neptunes' Trademark

Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams

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Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo are taking their recent legal dispute over The Neptunes' naming rights to court.

The longtime duo is responsible for some of the greatest Hip-Hop and Pop hits to come out of the early 2000's from Snoop Dogg's "Beautiful" to *NSYNC's "Girlfriend." However, their professional relationship made a shocking turn this week after Hugo's attorney Kenneth D. Freundlich took legal action against Williams. According to a report Billboard published on Monday, April 1, Hugo accused Williams of fraud after the "Frontin'" artist allegedly excluded him from trademark applications for The Neptunes.

“Throughout their over thirty year history, [Hugo] and Williams agreed to, and in fact, have divided all assets,” wrote Freundlich.

“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," he continued.

The issue stems from three applications filed by Pharrell's company PW IP Holdings LLC, which aim to trademark "The Neptunes" name for streaming music, music videos plus other content, and live performances. Hugo's attorneys allege Williams “knowingly and intentionally” left his former partner out of the paperwork even though their client is a known co-owner of the name. Williams' team previously acknowledged Hugo as a rightful owner and even claimed they would include him, but they allegedly moved forward without him anyways. Pharrell's team denies any wrongdoing and asserts that the filings would prevent a third party from owning the name.

“Pharrell is surprised by this," a rep for Williams said in a statement. "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.”

After forming in 1992, The Neptunes were discovered by Teddy Riley and later blew up with N.O.R.E.'s "Superthug." Since then, the duo has worked with a slew of legendary artists from JAY-Z and Beyoncé to Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. They went on to form N.E.R.D with Shay Haley in 1999 and released five albums together beginning with their 2001 LP In Search Of... to their 2017 album No One Ever Really Dies. The group was inducted in to the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2022. They also continued to produce hits together at the beginning of the 2020's for artists like Brent Faiyaz, Rosalia, Omar Apollo and Nigo.

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