Q Magazine

Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo Engaged in Court Battle Over Neptunes Name

The two partners were the producers and songwriters behind some of the biggest pop hits of the 2000s.

Source: MEGA

Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams are battling in court over the Neptunes name.

Link to FacebookShare to XShare to Email

As the Neptunes, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo were arguably the hottest hitmakers of the early 2000s, producing massive tracks for Britney Spears, Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani and the Clipse prior to Pharrell’s emergence as a major pop star in his own right. Now, however, the two are locked in a court battle over the rights to the name they built together.

According to court documents obtained by Billboard on April 1, Hugo has accused Williams of attempting to register trademarks for the Neptunes name without his consent, allegedly violating the duo’s 50-50 ownership of the brand.

Article continues below advertisement
Source: MEGA

Pharrell (front) and Hugo (in the DJ booth) performing as N.E.R.D. in 2019.

According to Billboard, the crux of the issue involves three trademark applications Williams filed to use the Neptunes name back in 2022 under his holding company. Per Hugo's attorney Kenneth D. Freundlich: “Throughout their over thirty year history, (Hugo) and Williams agreed to, and in fact, have divided all assets. 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.”

Williams' representatives responded with a statement on Monday, saying: “Pharrell is surprised by this. 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.”

Hugo's filing also claims that Williams' company had asked Hugo to agree to unspecified "onerous business terms."

Article continues below advertisement
chad hugo
Source: MEGA

Hugo largely functioned as the duo's silent partner during their hitmaking reign.

Williams and Hugo first met as children in Virginia Beach, VA, where they both participated in marching band. They had a hand in their first hit while still in high school, working with R&B producer Teddy Riley on Wreckx-n-Effect's 1992 No. 2 single "Rump Shaker." By the late 1990s, the duo had helmed a variety of hits -- Kelis' "Caught Out There," Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Got Your Money" -- and by the dawn of the 2000s they were among the music industry's hottest behind-the-scenes names. Stefani's "Hollaback Girl," Nelly's "Hot in Herre," Snoop's "Drop It Like It's Hot," Spears' "I'm a Slave 4 U" and Justin Timberlake's "Rock Your Body" were all Neptunes productions.

The two also released albums and toured together as N.E.R.D., with the pair's second album, Fly or Die, reaching No. 6 on the Billboard 200 in 2004. N.E.R.D.'s last album, No One Ever Really Dies, was released in 2017.

The pair won the Grammy Award for Producer of the Year in 2004, and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2022.

Article continues below advertisement
Source: MEGA

Pharrell hasn't put out a solo studio album since Girl way back in March 2014.

While the pair shared songwriting and production duties, Pharrell was often a featured artist on Neptunes-produced tracks and in videos, while Hugo largely stayed behind the scenes. Over the past decades, Pharrell became a solo star on his own, most notably on 2013's No. 1 single "Happy," and as the featured artist on Daft Punk's No. 2 hit "Get Lucky" that same year.

Never miss a story — sign up for the Q newsletter for the latest music news on all your favorite artists, all in one place.


Subscribe to our newsletter

your info will be used in accordance with our privacy policy

Read More