Kanye West’s lawyer has served a cease-and-desist letter to the seven anonymous creators of virtual currency Coinye West, which transformed from a chat room joke into an internet sensation last week, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Dated 6 January, the legal document was sent via email and includes an image of Coinye, which features a cartoon representation of the rapper on a gold medallion.
The letter claims that the actions of Coinye’s creators constitute unfair competition, wilful trademark infringement, dilution and cyberpiracy. They also violate West’s right of publicity under state law.
With West’s various entrepreneurial accomplishments, “consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that Mr West is the source of your services,” noted Brad Rose, partner at Pryor Cashman LLP and legal representative of West.
However, the move has not deterred Coinye’s creators. In fact, they moved the virtual currency’s release date to 7 January. They changed its name from Coinye West to simply “Coinye”.
“We want to release this to the public before the man can try to crush it,” said one of the creators in a Skype text interview.
“They’ll still come after us, but that’s OK.”
The creators believe that the rapper is trying to steal their idea, saying that the cease-and-desist note wants them to “unlock the domain and give it to them.”
“That’s a bit more than ‘hey stop this.’ More like they want to take it.”
If Coinye’s creators fail to comply with the letter, West’s lawyer has threatened to notify the cryptocurrency community of their infringing actions as well as pursue all legal remedies against businesses accepting the Coinye West currency.