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'Cease and Desist' says Kanye West to Coinye

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. on January 09, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Kanye West's lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to Coinye founders alleging that the virtual currency website infringed West's trademarks.

Coinye, or the virtual currency formerly known as Coinye West, was conceived by seven anonymous coders. For a man who loves to rant, West let his lawyer do the talking when he sent the letter requesting that the coders stop all activity relating to Coinye West or Coinye, reports The Wall Street Journal.

However, Coinye went ahead and launched its service anyway, but made some adjustments after the cease-and-desist letter was sent.

All of the Rights, All of the Rights

Kanye West's cease-and-desist letter to Coinye alleges that the website infringes the registered and pending applications of the Kanye West trademark. Following the protections of the Lanham Act, West doesn't want people to think that he's the source of Coinye or that he's affiliated with it or endorses it.

Being associated with Coinye brings up the issue of trademark dilution. When a trademark is used illegally, the mark's owner has no control over how it's being presented. Even though the name Coinye isn't owned by West, the original site name, Coinye West, along with the original logo featuring West's image, clearly show that the coders intended users to associate the Internet currency with the musician. The founders admitted that Coinye was inspired by West's celebrity and originality, according to PCWorld.

With other virtual currency, like Bitcoin, being used to facilitate drug deals and other criminal behavior, West wouldn't want people to confuse his goods and services with those that could be linked to illicit activity.

What's Changed Since The Cease-and-Desist Letter?

Despite the legal action, Coinye was launched and the virtual coins can be created using software from a website that's registered in India, even though a U.S.-based domain was previously used, reports the BBC. The domain move could mean that the coders are feeling the heat from the legal pressures.

The logo has changed, too. The original logo was a cartoon image of West's head on a gold coin. Since the cease-and-desist, the image changed to illustrate an African American man's head wearing shutter shades and a gold chain with a fish tail behind it. However, some might argue that Coinye's new logo plays on the South Park "gay fish" episode -- which was a parody of Kanye West.

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