By Erin Geiger Smith
(Reuters) - Music producer Pharrell Williams filed a lawsuit Monday asking a U.S. court to rule he has not violated any trademark that Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am owns for the phrase "I AM."
The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, said that will.i.am, whose real name is William Adams, has repeatedly sent letters to Williams demanding he stop using versions of the phrase "I AM" on a website founded by Williams, iamother.com.
The website, according to the lawsuit, focuses on "encouraging individuality through different forms of expression."
Trademarks owned by Williams's company, I Am Other Entertainment, do not have periods between the "i" and the "am," while those owned by will.i.am do, the lawsuit said.
Further, the lawsuit claimed, will.i.am's trademark for "I AM" covers clothing and is "relatively weak" because similar trademarks already exist.
An attorney for will.i.am was not immediately available for comment.
The lawsuit asked the court to declare that the phrase "I Am Other" does not "infringe, dilute or unfairly compete" with will.i.am, said Brad Rose, counsel for Williams.
Williams is part of the musical duo The Neptunes and has collaborated with artists including Justin Timberlake, Kanye West and Jay-Z.
The Black Eyed Peas have sold more than 31 million albums, according to will.i.am's website.
The case is I Am Other Entertainment, LLC v. William Adams, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 13-4547.
(The story was corrected to change spelling of Black Eyed Peas in the first paragraph)
(Editing by Ted Botha)