Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo embroiled in legal dispute over Neptunes name rights

The Neptunes' Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo are in a legal dispute over the rights to trademark their joint production project's name.

Attorneys for Chad Hugo filed legal action last week, Billboard reports, accusing Pharrell Williams of "attempting to unilaterally register trademarks for the Neptunes name", despite previous agreements to evening share ownership. Williams' company PW IP Holdings LLC submitted three trademark applications in 2022 for "The Neptunes" to cover its use in streaming, live performances and music video and other content. 

A representative for Williams shared a statement with Billboard to say he was "surprised" by the legal move, and his team have "reached out [to Hugo's] on multiple occasions to share in the ownership and administration of the trademark and will continue to make that offer".

Hugo's attorney Kenneth D. Freundlich told Billboard his team has contacted Williams' "repeatedly", and his lawyers "admitted that [Hugo] is equal co-owner of the trademarks". Freundlich said no progress has been made to update the trademark agreements as Williams' team proposed "onerous business terms" with respect to Hugo's "control and compensation".

"If Pharrell’s intent was to include Chad in the filing, he should have registered it in the name of them jointly or as a partnership and not in his own name,” Freundlich said in a statement to Billboard. "This was a land grab in a long simmering dispute that has yet to be resolved." 

The pair first started collaborating as the Neptunes in 1994 and hit chart success in the 2000s with major singles like Nelly's 'Hot in Herre', Snoop Dogg's 'Drop It Like It’s Hot' and Kelis' 'Milkshake'. Williams and Hugo reunited as a duo in 2020 to collaborate on tracks like Pharrell and Jay-Z's 'Entrepreneur' and A$AP Ferg's 'Green Juice'.

In August 2023, Pharrell Williams told Tyler, the Creator in GQ magazine that he's working on new music for N.E.R.D., his project with Hugo and Shay Haley.