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Pharrell, Chad Hugo in legal dispute over rights to 'Neptunes' name

The Neptunes are the Grammy-award winning collaborative masterminds behind a lengthy list of chart-topping hits throughout the early 2000s.
Pharrell, Chad Hugo in legal dispute over rights to 'Neptunes' name
Posted at 3:41 PM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 17:42:09-04

Music producer Chad Hugo has accused his longtime friend Pharrell Williams of fraudulently seeking sole control over trademarks for “The Neptunes,” the name of the lucrative songwriting and producing duo Hugo and Williams formed together over 30 years ago. 

The notice of opposition filed last week with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by Hugo and his attorney, Kenneth Freundlich,  claimed Williams filed trademark applications for the name “for his own benefit” without including Hugo and therefore committed fraud and “acted in bad faith,” according to Billboard, which first reported about the legal filing. 

Williams’ company, PW IP Holdings, LLC, submitted several applications in October 2022 to trademark “The Neptunes” for things like clothing, music, live entertainment, electronic publications and more. It was around the same time he applied to trademark the name of his music festival, “Something in the Water,” and “Strawberry Moon,” described as country club services. 

A representative for Pharrell told Billboard “there was no ill-intent” behind the filings and that his team had reached out to Hugo to share ownership of the trademark. The representative added that the goal of the filings was to make sure a third party didn’t get rights to the trademark. 

Hugo’s lawyer disputes those claims, Billboard reported. 

The Neptunes are the Grammy-award winning collaborative masterminds behind a lengthy list of chart-topping hits throughout the early 2000s, most notably Nelly’s “Hot in Herre,” Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” and Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” The list of artists they haven’t produced songs for might be shorter than the list of artists they have. 

Williams and Hugo met a summer camp in their hometown of Virginia Beach as children and later formed the duo in 1992. They were discovered by producer Teddy Riley after entering a local talent contest and the rest is history. 

While Williams began to take center stage and eventually launched his solo career, Hugo has always been known to be more behind the scenes. But both representatives for Williams and Hugo acknowledged the pair had an agreement to split everything down the middle when it came to their partnership.

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