Pharrell went there. "I am," the phrase that Will.i.am claims is his trademark and can't be part of Pharrell's, has obviously been around since before the Black Eyed Peas. But Will.i.am has, for better or worse, so thoroughly entangled himself in the pop culture it's easy to forget his name in particular resembles the name of the demented breakfast-food colorist in Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham.
Well, Pharrell's lawyers didn't forget, and they brought up the Suessian similarity in a new lawsuit filed against Will.i.am. As TMZ reports, citing a complaint in a New York federal court, Pharrell is asking a judge to sign off on his continued use of the "I Am Other" brand. In the suit, Pharrell claims Will.i.am has slapped him with a cease-and-desist letter.
The key difference, Pharrell's argument goes, comes down to the late Theodor Seuss Geisel. Contending that Will.i.am's use of "I am" is meant in a Seussian sense, Pharrell's suit quotes Green Eggs and Ham: "Sam I am / I am Sam / I am Sam / Sam I am." Pharrell argues his brand isn't just scrambling a Seuss line, as his suit reportedly continues: "In contrast, the I Am Other mark means 'I am something else,' leaving what that 'else' is to the imagination of the consumer. It certainly does not mean 'I am Will.'"
The back story: Will.i.am filed a trademark claim saying Pharrell's "I am other" was too close to Will.i.am's "I AM." Will.i.am's lawyer later explained the legal action wasn't a lawsuit per se and maintained the two sides had been trying to settle out of court. But Pharrell's lawyer responded that Will.i.am had been getting litigious with them all over the place. He sued them in a house. He sued them with a mouse. He sued them here or there. He sued them anywhere. They did not like that, Will.i.am.
Neon Trees should expect to hear from the Seuss estate's lawyers about their band name's undeniable similarity to I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!'s "knees on trees."