By  on March 23, 2010

An Illinois media firm has brought a trademark lawsuit against rapper T.I. over the name of his apparel line, Akoo.

In a complaint filed March 16 in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Akoo International Inc. says it has used the name since 1999 and trademarked it in 2007. The company, based in the Chicago suburb of Elmwood Park, provides music video programming to public spaces such as malls, restaurants and college campuses.

T.I., born Clifford Harris, launched his clothing line under the moniker — short for A King of Oneself — in 2008 with the Virginia Beach, Va.-based RP55 Group. According to court documents, the media firm sent the start-up a cease-and-desist letter in July 2008. At the time attorneys for the clothing company dismissed the idea that consumers would be confused by the name.

Among other allegations in its suit, the media firm argues the name has caused cases of mistaken identity, especially following the recent stir over a sexually suggestive billboard for the clothing brand in Newark, N.J.

A representative for the apparel firm declined to comment Friday.

Akoo International is seeking a court order barring its rival from using the name, legal fees and other, unspecified damages.

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