The popular rapper and producer Kanye West is suing a group of programmers behind the new digital currency COINYE, according to a recent report by the New York Daily News. COINYE is a decentralized digital currency similar to Bitcoin. Upon initially learning of the new currency, Mr. West’s lawyers filed a cease-and-desist letter on January 6. After the COINYE group continued to promote their currency, Mr. West’s lawyers filed a trademark infringement lawsuit for unspecified damages on Tuesday, January 14. According to the lawsuit, “[d]efendants have willfully and admittedly traded upon the goodwill and notoriety of Kanye West, one of the most famous entertainers and brand names in the world.”
The lawsuit states, “[the] defendants brazenly admit that they adopted the marks COINYE WEST, COINYE and COYE to directly associate their newly minted crypto-currency with Mr. West.” Indeed, the COINYE logo features a cartoon version of the media mogul wearing his iconic “shutter shades,” according to the suit. The resemblance between the COINYE logo and Mr. West are sufficiently similar such that “[w]ith each day that passes, Mr. West’s reputation is irreparably harmed…Consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that Mr. West is the source of these digital coins,” continues the lawsuit.
Mr. West’s lawyers proved the consumer misidentification of COINYE‘s authorship by referring to a number of tweets by the musician’s fans in which they speak of COINYE as if Mr. West were its creator. One tweet reads, “[m]ove over bitcoin, @kanyewest is about to create the greatest digital currency of all time.”
The makers of COINYE responded to the allegations by changing the logo to a distorted fish-Kanye hybrid in hopes that the design qualifies as parody. “COINYE has been revised and should be protected as a parody,” said a COINYE representative. “We believe it is a separate thing from his intellectual property.”
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Source: www.nydailynews.com, www.nydailynews.com, http://www.uspto.gov/about/stratplan/ar/USPTOFY2012PAR.pdf