As fast as it went from a clever Internet meme to a reality, Kanye West’s lawyers have moved to shut down the virtual currency created in Yeezus’ honor.
By now you may have heard about Coinye West, the bitcoin variation that features a cartoony image of a shades-wearing ‘Ye on the front. According to the Wall Street Journal, rather than being honored, West’s lawyers have unleashed a cease-and-desist letter against the seven anonymous coders who created the coins last week.
In a letter dated January 6, lawyer Brad Rose claims that the coin is a form of trademark infringement that takes away from Kanye’s reputation. “Given Mr. West’s wide-ranging entrepreneurial accomplishments, consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that Mr. West is the source of your services,” Rose wrote.
The anonymous geeks behind the coin don’t seem that shook, as they moved up the release date of the currency to Tuesday night, even as they changed its name from Coinye West to just “Coinye,” as well as moving their website to one registered in India. “Due to legal pressure, we will be launching today,” they wrote.
The reworked image on the coin now depicts ‘Ye as a bloated fish wearing a chain with zig-zag lines cut into his hair. “We want to release this to the public before the man can try to crush it,” one of the coders told the Journal on Monday night. “They’ll still come after us, but that’s OK.”
As a number of bitcoin copycats have emerged, the coders said they started to think of what they could do to make their mark. “We said Coinye West and we were like, ‘Holy… we gotta make that,’” one of them said. As the Internet went nuts over the idea, West did not react until Rose sent the letter, which asked the coders to stop using his client’s name or any variation on it.
“Mr. West is an internationally renown musical artist, songwriter, producer, film director and fashion designer, to name just a few of Mr. West’s endeavors,” reads Rose’s letter. “Mr. West’s tremendous success and notoriety has catapulted the KANYE WEST brand into a commercial asset of incalculable value … Several news sources have quoted the developers as stating, ‘We chose Kanye because of his trendsetting abilities and his originality,’ and also that you have decided to remain anonymous ‘in case Kanye gets pissed off.’ Such statement support a finding that your infringement is blatant and willful.”
The order demanded that the coders confirm that they will comply with the demands of West’s team by Monday, or they will be forced to pursue claims of trademark infringement and notify the “cryptocurrency community at large of your infringing actions.”