Apparel Company Says Will.i.am Left It in Lurch

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas reneged on a licensing agreement for a line of branded apparel, costing a multimillion-dollar loss, a Canadian clothing firm claims in Superior Court.
     I Am Je Suis, which does business as I.Am Clothing, accused will.i.am (real name William James Adams Jr.) of breaching an agreement which allowed it to continue the line for an additional three years. The firm claims that even though it provided the rapper, singer and producer with ample notice of the extension, will.i.am refused to acknowledge it.
     I.Am Clothing, a division of Manhattan International Trade Inc., says Adams entered into an agreement with Canadian company Fresh Marketing FFM Inc. in 2009. It says the singer assigned those rights to I.Am Clothing between June 2010 and 2013.
     “In addition to other things, the license agreement granted FFM (and subsequently plaintiff by reason of the assignment agreement) the exclusive right to use Adams’ professional name (will.i.am), likeness and image (the ‘property’), in conjunction with the manufacture, sale, marketing and distribution of clothing apparel and accessories of any type or nature whatsoever,” the complaint says.
     The firm says it was required to give will.i.am 180 days notice to extend the license agreement, which also gives it right of first refusal for other branded products, excluding music, electronics and phone products.
     “In reliance on the license agreement, plaintiff began creating a new line of clothing and apparel known as ‘I.Am Clothing’ (the ‘clothing line’). Plaintiff has spent considerable money, time, and efforts developing, creating and marketing the clothing line. The clothing line has subsequently been sold in approximately two hundred different boutique stores throughout the world,” the lawsuit states.
     The contract required it to give will.i.am notice of extension by the end of December 2012, and the firm says it notified him more than one year before that, in late 2011.
     According to the complaint: “Adams has taken the position in writing that plaintiffs exercise of the option is untimely. Adams claims the term expires in March 2012, because, Adams asserts, the license agreement was fully executed in March 2009. Adams is wrong. The license agreement was not fully executed until June 29, 2010.”
     The firm claims that will.i.am. not only refused to acknowledge the license agreement but entered into agreements with other companies to market branded products.
     The plaintiff is represented by Robert Chapman with Eisner, Kahan & Gorry of Beverly Hills, Calif. It seeks $2 million in damages for breach of written contract, anticipatory breach of contract, declaratory relief and an injunction.
     A representative for will.i.am did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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