Kanye West is following through on his threat to sue the creators of online currency Coinye West. The rapper filed suit in the Southern District of New York this week, alleging publicity rights violations, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, deceptive business practices, and other claims, for a total of 14 claims. And the lawsuit is pretty major; not only is West suing the currently anonymous creators/operators of the Coinye West site, he is suing a bunch of other parties, as well (think: secondary liability).
Also named in the lawsuit is Amazon.com, which is reportedly providing relevant web hosting services, and other payment processors, operators of the cryptocurrency “wallets,” retailers accepting “Coinye”, etc. According to the complaint, “Amazon.com and Jane Does Defendants have deliberately disregarded Plaintiffs’ counsel’s notification of the Infringing Websites and have otherwise consciously avoided learning about the full extent of the infringing activity that is continuing on the Infringing Websites.”
In case you missed it, Kanye’s legal team sent the Coinye makers a cease and desist letter, which quite obviously did not deter the Coinye team. In fact, the Coinye team launched the currency earlier than they had planned and responded with a letter of their own saying that they had removed references that would confuse consumers (think: changing the name from Coinye West to just Coinye) and had replaced the logo with the image of “half-man-half-fish hybrid who is wearing sunglasses, again, totally separate from any resemblance to your client.”
West’s complaint alleges that consumers are likely to believe that he is the source of the cryptocurrency or is involved in some way, and the complaint includes examples of said confusion. For instance, an array of tweets in which individuals assert West’s connection to Coinye, such as: “Move over #Bitcoin, @kanyewest now has his own cryptocurrency called @CoinyeWest.”
So, what does Kanye want? Well, he wants Coinye to be discontinued immediately and permanently, as he is suffering “irreparable harm” due to its existence. He also wants a bunch of damages and for the defendants to pay his attorneys’ fees. More. to. come. In the meantime, you can read the complaint here, complete with a lot of press demonstrating West’s “fame and success” and all of the tweets that his legal team finds relevant. Is yours on that list?