Pharrell and Chad Hugo Contest 'Neptunes' Name Rights in Legal Battle

Hugo's legal team accused Pharrell of seeking sole ownership over the name rights.

Two people standing with awards; one wears a red jacket and the other a black jacket with gold detailing
Gary Gershoff / Stringer via Getty Images
Two people standing with awards; one wears a red jacket and the other a black jacket with gold detailing

Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo are among the most beloved songwriting and production duos thanks to their work with countless artists, but a rift has come between the two amid a legal dispute over the name rights to 'The Neptunes.'

As reported by Billboard, Hugo has accused his songwriting partner of attempting to "fraudulently" claim sole ownership over the name rights for The Neptunes. The producer and songwriter's legal team has stated that Pharrell's attempts to register trademarks for the name unilaterally violate an agreement between the duo about splitting their ownership and royalties equally.

"Throughout their over thirty year history, [Hugo] and Williams agreed to, and in fact, have divided all assets," said Hugo's attorney Kenneth D. Freundlich. "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."

In response, a representative for Pharrell said he is "surprised" over the legal action. "We have reached out on multiple occasions to share in the ownership and administration of the trademark and will continue to make that offer," said his representative. "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."

In 2022, Pharrell's company PW IP Holdings LLC filed three applications to register The Neptunes as a trademark, one for music videos, one for live performances, and one for the name on streaming music. While Pharrell's team said that it does intend to share ownership of the trademarks with Hugo, Hugo's legal team said it has "repeatedly" attempted to contact Pharrell to expedite the process to no avail.

As a duo, the Neptunes have earned four Grammy wins and 12 nominations. They've worked together for the likes of Clipse, Beyoncé, Ludacris, Britney Spears, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani, and Justin Timberlake, with whom they won two Grammys in 2004 for their work on Timberlake's solo debut, Justified. Some of their biggest hits include "Hot in Herre," "Drop It Like It's Hot," "Rock Your Body," and "Hollaback Girl."

Latest in Music