Look out world, Kanye West is feeling litigious.
West, who recently sued YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley for releasing verboten footage of his proposal to Kim Kardashian, has set his legal eagles on the coders behind Coinye West, a BitCoin-style cryptocurrency that bears Kanye's cartoon image and name. West's attorney's, Pryor Cashman LLP, have issued a cease and desist order to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org (Kanye's lawsuit comes courtesy of 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," wrote Pryor Cashman partner Brad Rose, whose impressive client list expands far beyond Kanye—try Akon, Tyra Banks, Chris Brown, Mariah Carey, Fred Durst, and ECKO Unlimited (and that's just the first five letters of the alphabet).
For those not savvy to cryptocurrency, it's essentially a decentralized virtual payment medium that exists only in digital form. Or, more plainly, it is an alternative form of currency that has no governing authority. As a result it only has value based on the participants' agreement that is has value, its worth being defined by supply and demand. BitCoin and other forms are volatile as a result of having no liquidity; Scrooge McDuck can't dive into his vault of BitCoins, you can't store your stash of Coinye West under your mattress. While it might not make for a feasible investment scheme to some, the system works because it exists in a limited supply that cannot be counterfeited. Those attracted to the protocol enjoy the anonymity and instant nature of the exchange.
As a result of the legal action, the Coinye West developers have sped up release of the virtual currency to Tuesday at 7 p.m. PST. Despite having made overtures to Kanye via Twitter, the folks behind Coinye West have remained anonymous specifically to avoid such an ugly situation.
"We're really not sure how Kanye is gonna react to this. We hope he loves it, but if he doesn't, he really isn't someone we want to piss off," the developers said in an email exchange with VICE.
In addition to potential consumer confusion, the Coinye West mark also serves as willful trademark infringement by appropriation of Kanye's likeness.
What do you think about the Kanye vs. Coinye West fiasco?
@kanyewest Kanye, have you ever invested in bitcoin or litecoin? What do you think of @CoinyeWest?
— Coinye (@CoinyeCoins) December 31, 2013