The Neptunes Are In Dispute As Pharell Williams And Chad Hugo Head To Court Over The Rights To Their Group Name

The Neptunes hold the credits to some of the biggest hits of the 2000s. The production duo, which consisted of Virginia Beach natives Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, contributed beats to everyone from Britney Spears to Snoop Dogg, with significant impact on the careers of Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Kelis, Nelly, Robin Thicke, T.I., and more.

Unfortunately, it looks like the future of the odd couple’s production brand is in dispute as Hugo’s attorneys have filed legal documents claiming Williams attempted to register trademarks for the Neptunes name in violation of a previous agreement to split everything 50/50.

Hugo’s attorney Kenneth D. Freundlich wrote in the filing, “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, according to a statement to Billboard from Pharrell’s reps, Williams did try to get Chad onboard with no success. ““Pharrell is surprised by this,” it reads. “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.”

Billboard explains in its report that Williams submitted three applications in 2022 to register The Neptunes: one for streaming, one for music videos and similar media, and one for live performances. Hugo’s attorneys argue that his name was not listed as a co-owner of the The Neptunes entity and that they reached out to Williams to get the issue corrected multiples times since. While Williams’ reps have apparently offered to include Hugo, it would be under what Chad’s lawyers call “onerous business terms.”