The "Yeezus" artist says the e-retailer is committing contributory trademark infringement by allegedly enabling websites trading in the digital money.
Kanye West is not letting the anonymous, decentralized nature of cryptocurrency get in the way of pursuing those behind "Coinye West."
The hip-hop artist has filed a lawsuit, looking to hold liable those who have tendered the digital money. If he wins the lawsuit alleging publicity rights and trademark violations, he could get some cold, hard cash -- a.k.a. the Benjamins (no disrespect intended to Mr. Franklin).
First, though, he'll need to figure out the identities of the alleged culprits, and to make that happen, he's targeting a wide range of defendants from 0daycoins.com, said to operate a digital currency exchange, to Amazon.com, identified as providing web hosting services to the currency exchanges. Then, of course, there are the anonymous John Does -- payment processors, operators of crytocurrency "wallets," retailers accepting "Coinye" and others.
In his complaint filed in New York federal court, West says that consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that he is the source of the cryptocurrency. The lawsuit provides examples of tweets like the one from Christopher Hudson, who wrote, "Move over #Bitcoin, @kanyewest now has his own cryptocurrency called @CoinyeWest."
West's attorneys at Pryor Cashman might hope to subpoena their way into more information about the defendants, but for now, the most interesting claim comes against Amazon for contributory trademark infringement.
According to the lawsuit, "Amazon.com and Jane Does Defendants have deliberately disregarded Plaintiffs' counsel's notification of the Infringing Websites and have otherwise consciously avoided learning about the full extent of the infringing activity that is continuing on the Infringing Websites."
It's further alleged that Amazon is materially encouraging and contributing to the websites doing "Coinye West."
We've reached out to the e-retailer and will update with any reaction.
In the meantime, here's the complaint.
One of the "Coinye West" websites previously posted the following message: "We would like to make it clear that we are entirely independent of (West), 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."
However, that website now reads, "Conye is dead. You win, Kanye."