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Hip Hop Dance Team Founder Says|Newcomer Impersonated His Crew

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The founder of the urban dance group Soul Sector says a member stole the group's trademarked jackets, recruited new members and used Soul Sector's name and reputation to compete on MTV's street dance show, "America's Best Dance Crew."

Plaintiff Kevin Barairo says he founded Soul Sector in 1998 and trademarked the name. In his federal lawsuit, he says that Christopher Jennings falsely claimed on the air that Soul Sector had defeated another dance crew, the Jabbawockeez. That crew had become well known on the previous season of the MTV show.

Barairo says the real Soul Sector spent 10 years performing in underground urban dance "battles" all over the world before Jennings' group appeared on "America's Best Dance Crew."

He claims Jennings, a Soul Sector member, formed his own group which performed its televised audition under the name Soul Sector. Jennings allegedly tricked real Soul Sector members into lending him their trademarked Soul Sector "letterman" jackets, so his impostor group could wear them on the show.

When the group made it onto the show, Barairo says, MTV asked him to sign away his rights to the Soul Sector name. He says he refused, so Jennings' group appeared in the show under the name Supreme Soul. For the rest of the season, the group wore the same jackets, but removed the word "Sector" from it, Barairo says. He claims fans recognized the altered jackets and confused the two groups. Now, Barairo says, Soul Sector can't perform without its costume, while the copycat crew is being booked for performances.

Barairo also claims that retailer Invisible Stripes made "Soul Sector" clothes for the copycat group to wear on the MTV show. He claims that Invisible ignored his cease-and-desist letter, and interfered with Barairo's own "Soul Sector" clothing line by telling distributors that Barairo's merchandise is unauthorized. Several buyers canceled their clothing orders, according to the lawsuit.

Named as defendants are MTV Networks, Warner Horizon Television, Dream Merchant 21 Entertainment, Daft Productions, and Invisible Stripes Clothing.

Barairo wants treble damages for trademark infringement. He is represented by Che Hashim.

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