Federal Circuit Hands Will.i.am Defeat on ‘I Am’ Trademark

WASHINGTON(CN) — Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am lost an appellate fight Tuesday to get federal trademark protection for a range of products branded I Am.

Before assigning the trademark applications to his company, I.am.symbolic, Will.i.am filed trademark applications for the marks using his legal name, William Adams.

His appeal to the Federal Circuit comes after the examining attorney refused to register the mark, and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office affirmed.

Finding no error in that decision Tuesday, a three-judge panel with the Federal Circuit found little evidence that Adams is just as recognizable by the las three letters of his first name.

“The record did not establish that Adams is ‘widely known by “i.am” (as opposed to “will.i.am”), or that “i.am” and “will.i.am” are used interchangeably by either Adams or the public,’” U.S. Circuit Judge Alan Lourie wrote for the court.

Later in the ruling, Lourie wrote that “the websites and media coverage pointed to by Symbolic consistently show that Adams is known as will.i.am, not I AM or i.am.”

The decision also notes that an applicant named Danica Siegel already holds the trademark I Am for perfume, that Beeline GmbH holds the mark for sunglasses, and that Justin Finch holds the mark for jewelry.

Will.i.am’s attorney, Jill Pietrini of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, noted disappointment in the decision.

“We believe that this decision, which treats three discreet categories of goods differently, is not based in marketplace realities,” Pietrini said in an email. “Mr. Adams will continue to protect his rights in I AM.”

The attorney also noted that “Will Adams owns several registrations and applications to register I AM in various formats for various products and services that are unaffected by this decision.”

%d bloggers like this: