Pharrell Williams Threatens to Sue White House for Playing “Happy” After Synagogue Shooting

Even though President Trump and his family are avid traders of trademarks and manage their last name as a brand in multiple industries, he does not seem to respect others’ intellectual property as he should.

Once again, a musician has sent through his lawyers a cease and desist letter to the White House for the use of music in Trump’s political rallies without permission.

We already wrote about other complaints to the White House in the Marcos E. Garciaacosta Law Group’s blog.

This time is even more negative and politically charged.

The Artist: Pharrell Williams. The song: Happy.

Trump played last Saturday (9-27-18), just hours after the mass shooting tragedy at Tree of Life Synagogue, the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams at a rally in Indiana.

“There was nothing ‘happy’ about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose.”

Pharrell quickly engaged his lawyers to send a letter to Trump:

“On the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged ‘nationalist,’ you played his song ‘Happy’ to a crowd at a political event in Indiana,” wrote attorney Howard King. “There was nothing ‘happy’ about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose.”

The letter by Mr. King, of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP made also reference to the Lanham Act, which enforces a national trademark registration system and called on Trump to stop playing Pharell’s music.

In the letter, through his lawyers, Pharrell Williams threatened to file a lawsuit.

Earlier that Saturday morning, Robert Bowers, 46, stormed the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, shooting and murdering 11 worshipers. Media reported that the shooter, who was captured alive, told a SWAT officer that Jews “were committing genocide to his people.”

Bowers has a history of anti-Semitic online rants expressed in the far right social network Gab.com.

On his letter, attorney King states that Williams “has not and will not grant Trump permission to publicly perform or otherwise disseminate his music, and claims the use of ‘Happy’ without his consent constitutes both copyright and trademark infringement.

Here is the letter. 

“I applaud Pharrell letter to the White House, since playing the 2013 hit song is so wrong in so many levels. Not only is an infringement on the copyright and trademark laws, but, importantly, is profoundly insensitive in light of the horrific tragedy in Pennsylvania”, said Phoenix-area trademark and business attorney Marcos E. Garciaacosta.

Our prayers are with the Jewish community and we sincerely hope that Trump becomes more respectful and sensitive.

“Famous creators and business owners like Pharrell Williams or yet to be famous or small business owners do not have to put up with others infringing their intellectual property and creations. A good intellectual property attorney can fight to protect your copyrights, trademarks, marks and inventions against anyone, including the most powerful”, said Marcos.

Along with trademark, and intellectual property filings, we help our clients to defend their intellectual property against infringements. Call us at (480) 324-6378 to schedule a free consultation with attorney Marcos E. Garciaacosta.

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