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Monday, July 15, 2024 | Back issues
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Will.i.am Strikes Out With Trademark Board

(CN) - Though Black Eyed Peas rapper Will.i.am already has a fashion line called i.am, he cannot register the mark for beauty products, a trademark appeals board ruled.

A trademark examining attorney refused the registration since someone else already registered "I Am" for perfume, and the Trademark Trial and Appeal BVoard affirmed on Oct. 7.

In the case at hand, Will.i.am had sought to launch a line of i.am beauty products that includes cosmetics, shaving creams, massage oils, toothpastes, sunscreens and bubble baths.

Will.i.am already registered the I Am mark for fashion and claimed that the beauty-product mark is a natural extension of the existing marks and "conveys the synthesis of (his) own artistry, expression and activism."

The philosophy of existing mark meanwhile stems from the line made famous by Rene Descartes, "I think, therefore I am." The fragrances this registrant sells proclaim a variety of states, including "I am wild, I am love, I am hot, and I am magic," according to the ruling.

In contrast to this positive-thought philosophy, Will.i.am argued that the products he would sell are intended to promote his "fame as a music artist, fashion designer, political activist and entrepreneur, because he is and has been uniquely referred to as WILL.I.AM and has already used I AM for so many years."

Will.i.am's "use of I AM is to identify a certain individual and his various endeavors, not to denote a type of philosophy," his brief to the appeal board said.

The argument failed to sway the court's three-judge panel.

"Regardless of how applicant or registrant currently intends to promote its mark, it is indisputable that the two marks at issue are literally identical, carry the same meaning, and have the potential to be used (at least in terms of their grammatical meaning) in exactly the same manner," Judge Quinn wrote for the court.

The panel also rejected Will.i.am's claim that there would be little confusion since he has developed his brand now to the point where people know him as "i.am."

"Applicant is seeking to register the mark I AM (no periods), and not WILL.I.AM," Quinn wrote. "Even if we were to accept applicant's contention that Mr. Adams is known by 'i.am' and that this brand has gained notoriety, the statute still 'protects the registrant and senior user from adverse commercial impact due to use of a similar mark by a newcomer.'"

Will.i.am founded the Black Eyed Peas, which also includes Fergie, Taboo and apl.de.ap. They are known for hit songs such as "I Gotta Feeling" and "Let's Get It Started." The Peas performed at halftime of Super Bowl XLV in 2011.

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