Kanye West threatens suit over Coinye currency

Lawyers for Kanye West have filed cease and desist papers to halt creation of the virtual currency Coinye West, The Hill has confirmed.

The Internet money, which became a sensation online in recent weeks, is modeled after the rapper’s name and bears a cartoon version of his likeness on its website.

For West and his lawyers, that amounts to trademark infringement and copyright violation, they alleged in a letter sent on Monday.

“The COINYE WEST mark is substantially similar to the KANYE WEST mark in sight, sound, meaning and commercial impression,” Brad Rose, a partner at the Pryor Cashman law firm, wrote in a letter obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

“Given Mr. West’s wide-ranging entrepreneurial accomplishments, consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that Mr. West is the source of your services or is, at the very least, affiliated with, or has sponsored or endorsed the cryptocurrency.”

Rose wants the Coinye West creators to abandon their effort, and shut down the website and social media accounts associated with it. If they don’t, he threatens to “pursue all legal remedies against any business that accepts the purported COINYE WEST currency.”

The anonymous creators behind the currency seem to not have backed down.

The currency was originally set to launch on Jan. 11, but the date has been moved up to Tuesday evening “due to legal pressure," they said on their site.

Virtual currencies like Coinye West exist only online, but can be traded for cash or, in some cases, goods and services. The most well-known of the fledgling currencies is bitcoin, which supporters have tried to convince regulators and lawmakers is a safe and reliable way to transfer money.

Dozens of copycats have had an easy time starting their own Internet currencies by modifying bitcoin's code, which is open source.

Some, like Coinye West, seem to have been created more in jest than anything else, though they can nonetheless be exchanged for money.

On their website, the currency creators assert the name is all in good fun.

"We would like to make it clear that we are entirely independent of the man, and there should be no confusion as to the intent or origin of this project. The name ‘Coinye’ is intended solely as parody, not an indication or implication of endorsement or involvement,” they wrote.