Kanye West has escalated his legal battle against Coinye, filing a trademark-infringement lawsuit against unnamed digital currency operators and 100 anonymous co-defendants, even as some people involved with the project appear to have abandoned it. "Coinye is dead," reads a message posted to Coinye.in. "You win, Kanye." A thread on the Coinye subreddit also says developers have abandoned the Bitcoin-like crytopcurrency.
West, who alleges that the creators of Coinye are trading on his name and image without permission, had previously filed suit against the anonymous coders who are creating it. Today he broadened his attack to include the operators of Coinye exchanges including 0daycoins.com, Coinye-Exchange.com, and NewChg.com.
"You win, Kanye."
The New York Post reports that West and his company Mascotte Holdings filed the suit in federal court in Manhattan. "Defendants have willfully and admittedly traded upon the goodwill and notoriety of Kanye West, one of the most famous entertainers and brand names in the world," the suit says. "Without hesitation, defendants have usurped Mr. West's name and likeness for the sole purpose of propping up the perceived ‘value' of the defendants' ‘digital coin mine' and its ‘cryptocurrency.'"
From the start, it has been unclear whether Coinye is an actual project or an elaborate joke. After the initial lawsuit was filed, Coinye's creators responded with a cease and desist letter of their own, saying the currency was based not on West but "a half-man-half-fish hybrid who is wearing sunglasses." While the legal battle plays out, the Coinye exchanges still have not been opened to the public — and now it looks like it might never be.
Update: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Coinye developers have apparently abandoned the project, and that while Coinye is in circulation exchanges have not opened.