Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams Involved in Neptunes Legal Dispute

The Neptunes’ Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, November 2003 (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Chad Hugo has accused Pharrell Williams of seeking control of the Neptunes name by claiming sole ownership of new trademarks, Billboard reports. In response, Williams’ lawyers told Billboard and Pitchfork that they had attempted to offer Hugo joint ownership. Hugo has tried to formalize that co-ownership, but his lawyers claim Williams and his companies have insisted on “onerous business terms” that would limit Hugo’s control and compensation. Pitchfork has emailed Hugo’s attorney, Kenneth D. Freundlich, for further comment.

Hugo and Williams amassed a formidable catalog as the Neptunes in the late 1990s and the 2000s, minting a highly influential pop/R&B hybrid on songs like Usher’s “U Don’t Have to Call,” Nelly’s “Hot in Herre,” Kelis’ “Caught Out There” and “Milkshake,” Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl,” and most of Justin Timberlake’s Justified. The Neptunes are also credited as producers in Hugo and Williams’ rap rock band with Shay Haley, N.E.R.D.

Hugo’s lawsuit relates to three recent trademark applications, but, Billboard notes, his lawyers suggest the action could expand to include other trademark applications by Williams’ company. Among them are a successful trademark registration for musical sound recordings, as well as pending applications for Neptunes clothing and other merch. His attorneys say Williams’ lawyers have “admitted that [Hugo] is equal co-owner of the trademarks” and promised to include him, but have not made the necessary amendments.

Originally Appeared on Pitchfork