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William Adams, also known as will.i.am and the frontman for the hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas, has lost his appeal challenging the denial of the "I AM" trademark registration. Adams' company, i.am.symbollic, llc already holds the I AM mark for some goods and services, and was seeking to expand intro product categories where the mark has already been used.
Sadly for the artist and entrepreneur, his attorneys were not able to convince the appellate court that the trademark examiners made a mistake. Even their bold argument that the extent of will.i.am's fame and his I AM mark's notoriety created a "reverse confusion" situation could not win the day over previously registered I AM trademarks in the categories in which i.am.symbollic sought protection.
I AM associated with will.i.am
After the registration examiner refused the I AM trademark initially, on the grounds of confusion, i.am.symbollic amended it to include a statement alongside the trademark to associate it with will.i.am. Next to the I AM mark, it would state: "associated with William Adams, professionally known as 'will.i.am'." Nevertheless, even with the modification that included the explicit will.i.am association, the examiner refused the registration.
In addition to finding that the mark modification was not sufficient, it also found that will.i.am and i.am are not interchangeable when it comes to will.i.am's repute.
Court: I AM Not Convinced
In affirming the decision of the registration examiner, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that there was no fault in the process, evidence, nor conclusions.