Pharrell Williams & Producer Chad Hugo In Legal Dispute Over ‘Neptunes’ Name Rights

Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo

Pharrell Williams & Producer Chad Hugo In Legal Dispute Over ‘Neptunes’ Name Rights

The Neptunes musical duo appears to be going through some legal drama.

According to reports, record producer Chad Hugo is accusing his partner and longtime friend, Pharrell Williams, of trying to capitalize off their group’s name by “fraudulently” seeking sole control over trademarks.

Chad Hugo, Pharrell Williams

The legendary pair formed the production and songwriting duo, Neptunes, in 1992. Together they produced various hits in the early 2000s, including; Nelly’s “Hot in Here,” Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl,” and Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body.”

As part of Chad Hugo’s filing, he claims Pharrell Williams attempted to register trademarks for the Neptunes’ name without his consent. Chad Hugo and his legal team argue that the musician violated their long-established agreement to split everything equally.

Chad Hugo

Chad’s attorney, Kenneth D. Freundlic alleges,

“Throughout their over thirty year history, [Hugo] and Williams agreed to, and in fact, have divided all assets. By ignoring and excluding [Hugo] from the any and all applications filed by applicant for the mark ‘The Neptunes,’ applicant has committed fraud in securing the trademarks and acted in bad faith.”

However, a rep for Pharrell Williams claims in a recent statement that there were no hidden agendas behind the trademark filings.

“Pharrell is surprised by this. We have reached out on multiple occasions to share in the ownership and administration of the trademark and will continue to make that offer. The goal here was to make sure a third party doesn’t get a hold of the trademark and to guarantee Chad and Pharrell share in ownership and administration.”

Pharrell Williams

Chad’s dispute notes three separate applications to register The Neptunes as a trademark, which included one covering the use of the name on streaming music, another for music videos and other content, and a third covering live performances. The trademark applications were reportedly filed in 2022 by Pharrell’s company PW IP Holdings LLC.

In addition, the music producer’s attorneys allege that Pharrell had “knowingly and intentionally” filed the applications without agreement from Chad and despite knowing he should have been listed as a co-owner.

Pharrell Williams

While Pharrell’s camp is aware of the matter and promised to include Chad in the trademarks, it’s reported that Pharrell’s company has insisted on “onerous business terms” that would leave Chad without proper control and compensation. Reports also note that Pharrell’s company already successfully registered the Neptunes’ name as a trademark for musical sound recordings, with another application pending to register the name for clothing and other merch, which could be the subject of future legal action.

Pharrell Williams

What are your thoughts on this entire situation? Comment below! 


Authored by: Ariel Whitely