Coinye Currency Launches Despite Threats From Kanye West

Rap superstar Kanye West has attempted to shut down Coinye West, a cryptocurrency playing on his name. In response, the currency has dropped the “West” and launched four days early – in order to profit from the hoo-hah.

A message on the Coinye website said the currency would be launching on 7 January instead of 11 January in response to the legal threats. “We are being attacked with fishsticks and must launch sooner,” the organisers said. The currency, now called CoinyeCoin, will be available for Bitcoin, or can be “mined” like Bitcoins.

Kanye West’s lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to the anonymous coders behind Coinye West, according to the Wall Street Journal, alleging trademark infringement. The Coinye creators appear to have come up with the name as a chatroom joke, and their responses seem to be aimed at exploiting the publicity while complying with the letter (if not the spirit) of the legal request. .

Coinye West told to cease and desist

“Given Mr. West’s wide-ranging entrepreneurial accomplishments, consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that Mr. West is the source of your services,” wrote Brad Rose, a partner at Pryor Cashman LLP.

Rose asked for the users to discontinue their social media accounts related to the cryptocurrency, and not use the Coinye name, or any variations of it, in any future work. He threatened to “notify the cryptocurrency community at large of your infringing actions and pursue all legal remedies against any business that accepts the purported Coinye West currency.”

The coders, in response, have made some technical changes, ostensibly to avoid further action. Not only have they removed the West part of the name, meaning its name is now simply Coinye (though the BBC reports it as CoinyCoin), they have switched the service’s main website to an Indian domain. The original graphic shown here has been replace with a more cartoon-ish face with the addition of a fishtail.

As the creators of the currency may have planned – or at least decided to exploit –  the extra attention will likely make Coinye more valuable. As seen with Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies value depends on its popularity, or notoriety.

Anyone who has a decent level of coding ability can start a cryptocurrency, given many of the related algorithms are open source. That has led to many questioning the stability of such currencies. Others claim they protect privacy and allow for non-government controlled exchange of goods.

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Thomas Brewster

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

View Comments

  • The new logo may not actually please Kanye West or his lawyers.

    That, and the Fishticks line, refer to a South Park episode in which he is the only one in the world not to understand a joke, and becomes a gay fish.


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