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OFF BEAT: Kanye West sues to keep Coinye West out of circulation

January 20, 2014 - 1:55pm


The anonymous creators of a would-be digital currency called Coinye West have reportedly abandoned their venture after rapper Kanye West sued them last week for trademark infringement, violation of privacy, unjust enrichment and other claims.

Coinye was an Internet-based currency, similar to Bitcoin, that featured a caricature of Mr. West’s face, according to a complaint filed Jan. 14 by Mr. West in U.S. District Court in New York. Pictures in the complaint show a Coinye coin with Mr. West’s face wearing sunglasses and another with Mr. West’s face, also wearing sunglasses, superimposed on a fish’s body.

Defendants named in the suit include 50 Jane Does, Amazon.com Inc. and several websites that operate digital currency exchanges, according to court documents posted online. The Jane Doe defendants include servers, Web host companies, “cryptocurrency” exchanges and other companies or people acting on behalf of the Coinye creators.

Amazon is accused of providing Web hosting services for the Coinyeco.in and Coinyewest.com websites, court records show.

“With each day that passes, Mr. West’s reputation is irreparably harmed by the continued use of the Coinye West (and) Coinye ... marks in connection with defendants’ goods and services,” the complaint reads. “Defendants have admittedly and willfully infringed upon the Kanye West mark, and consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that Mr. West is the source of these digital coins.”

The Verge website said the makers of Coinye currency dropped the project after Mr. West’s lawsuit was filed. The report quotes the Coinye website as saying “Coinye is dead. You win, Kanye,” last week.