Kanye West's lawyer has slapped the seven anonymous coders behind Coinye West, a Bitcoin-like digital currency (whatever that is), with a cease-and-desist email this week. The Kanye-inspired digital coin, which features a cartoon image of West’s head, was reportedly designed to bring a more consumer-friendly alternative to Bitcoin to a less technical audience, and the response has been huge. According to a statement from the creators (seven individuals who refuse to disclose their names or locations), they "receive about 500 hits to their website every minute, and a few hundred emails an hour, and more newsletter subscriptions." And Kanye's lawyer, Brad Rose, a partner at Pryor Cashman LLP, isn't amused. Rose's cease and desist letter cites trademark infringement, and states that "Given Mr. West’s wide-ranging entrepreneurial accomplishments, consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that Mr. West is the source of [the] services or is, at the very least, affiliated with, or has sponsored or endorsed the cryptocurrency." The email (addressed to coinyewest@gmail) also states that Kanye is an "internationally renown musical artist, songwriter, producer, film director [oh hey, Cruel Summer], and fashion designer [obvi]" and is "one of the most awarded artists of all time."
image courtesy of rodrigo ferrari
As you may have heard, the Coinye West makers don't cease action (aka - stop using West’s name, image or likeness in connection with any product or service, deactivate the Coinyewest.com website, and all social media accounts created or used in connection with the digital currency) by the Monday evening deadline imposed by Rose. So, according to the cease and desist, “If you fail to comply with these demands, we will notify the cryptocurrency community at large of your infringing actions and pursue all legal remedies against any business that accepts the purported Coinye West currency.”
While there is no confirmation that the seven creators actually received the cease and desist, they did get wind of the brewing legal battle, and they were not deterred. Instead of backing down, they have done the opposite and launched the coin, but not before putting some extra precautions in place (think: they changed the name of the currency from "Coinye West" to just “Coinye” and moved their website from a .com domain name to one registered in India. They did not, however, remove the Kanye song lyrics, "I don't know what's better, gettin laid or gettin paid," from their site). Then, they moved the launch date from January 11th to January 7th at 10pm, posting the following message to their site: "We are being attacked with fishsticks and must launch sooner. Jan 7th." They further stated in an email that they were planning to move forward with the launch, saying: "We want to get this into the hands of the public—after that, it’s peer to peer and unstoppable." More to come ...