San Diego Trademark Attorney® Blog

Kanye West Hurls Trademark Lawsuit at Makers of "COINYE" Currency

January 23, 2014

coins.jpgSan Diego - Kanye West has commenced a lawsuit against the creators of a playfully named brand of virtual currency. What started off as an internet fad, calling online digital currently "COINYE WEST," quickly turned into a legal dispute, with Kanye West's lawyers sending a cease and desist letter to the currency's makers, who have largely remained anonymous throughout the ordeal. When the cease and desist letter failed to curtail the coders, West and his legal team commenced a formal civil lawsuit in federal court in New York.

The rap artist, who gained fame originally for his hit album "College Dropout" and more recently for his romantic relationship with reality star Kim Kardashian, is not happy with the new virtual currency knocking off his name. Indeed, West's lawsuit provides several examples of what appear to be actual consumers, who through their tweets and social media posts, associate West with the currency, saying things like, "Kanye West now has a currency" and "Move over bitcoin, @kanyewest is about to create the greatest digital currency of all time."

With respect to the problem of anonymity on the part of the makers of COINYE, it seems that Kanye West may soon be provided relief as a judge for the court in which the lawsuit was filed recently granted him the legal authority to learn the identities of the COINYE coders. The threat of the coders' identifies being uncovered may apparently be enough to get West what he wants, as just this past week, one of the websites at issue displayed a notice that read, "COINYE IS DEAD. You win, Kanye." As far as what it will take for Kanye West to feel that he has in fact "won," his complaint seeks unspecified damages as well as a complete shutdown of all websites offering the COINYE currency to consumers.

Bitcoin is a completely electronic currency that can be bought, sold and exchanged entirely online, with the value being determined by simple supply and demand. In recent months, several big name online retailers have begun accepting bitcoin as payment, including Overstock.com and Zynga. In the case of COINYE, the physical appearance of the online currency features a gold coin with a picture of Kanye West's face connected to a fishtail and wearing his signature gold glasses and a necklace. In his complaint, West pointed out that this intentional association has unfairly "traded upon the goodwill and notoriety of Kanye West, one of the most famous entertainers and brand names in the world."