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Lawyers to challenge virtual currency

Posted by: Laurence Simons 14/01/14

In a story that brings together all of the threads of millennial society in a frankly disconcerting, hyper-real way, Kanye West's lawyers are threatening to shut down a virtual currency, Coinye West, that uses the rapper and producer's image in its marketing.

The anonymous programmers behind the Bitcoin alternative have received letters warning that they infringe on West's trademark, reports the Guardian.

Billed as a "PROPER and FAIR ... [currency] for the masses", the start-up has pushed its launch forward after receiving a cease and desist letter from Pryor Cashman, the firm that represents West.

"Coinye feelin' the heat, gonna spread what we got so far before the bigwigs steal our work!!," declared the company, presumably having spent six hours crafting that tweet to hide the fact that they've been expensive educated at a host of Ivy League schools.

E-currency has become big business over the last couple of years, with Bitcoin the best-known example. Originally used to buy goods online, certain bars have now started accepting the cryptocurrency.

Seven of Coinye's coders have received letters from West's attorney Brad D Rose accusing them of trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition and cyberpiracy, according to 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 or is, as the very least ... [had] endorsed the cryptocurrency," said the lawyer.

However, the company's response suggests it was not phased by this dizzying list of charges.

Although the rapper is hoping to resolve the issue without litigation, he is expecting the owners of the currency to shut down their operation, pass their website over into his hands and end all development and distribution plans.

So far, the only concession made by the company has been to change the currency's name to Coinye, rather than Coinye West.

"We want to release this to the public before the man can try to crush it," one coder told the Wall Street Journal.