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Will.i.am says Pharrell's trademark is too similar

Mesfin Fekadu, AP Music Writer

FILE - In this May 19, 2013 photo, Will.i.am arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Will.i.am says his “I AM” trademark is too similar to one Pharrell’s company tried to register. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Will.i.am says a trademark Pharrell's company tried to register is too similar to his "I AM" trademark.

Will.i.am has owned the "I AM" trademark since 2001. He filed oppositions in March and May against Pharrell's company, i am OTHER. It launched in 2010.

In a statement Thursday, will.i.am's attorney Ken Hertz says trademark lawyers for will.i.am and Pharrell "discussed the matter for several months." He says because of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's deadlines, will.i.am "had no choice but to lodge his objection at the time he did."

Hertz says the lawyers for the musicians first spoke in December.

Pharrell says in a statement he's "disappointed" and "surprised" by will.i.am's opposition.

Will.i.am uses "I AM" for a number of his businesses, including his charity foundation I AM ANGEL.