What’s in a Business Name? Ask Kayne West, Suing Coinye

suing coinye

Singer, songwriter and rapper Kayne West has filed a trademark infringement suit against an unnamed group of developers. West claims the developers of a digital currency called Coinye are attempting to trade on his name and image.

The digital coins bear the likeness of a fish with a human head wearing sunglasses that does bear a resemblance to West. The name and logo may also be a play on a segment from the animated Comedy Central series South Park which lampooned the singer.

In fact, many in the tech press originally suggested Coinye might not be a real business at all, but a joke, The Verge reports.

West doesn’t seem to be laughing. Excerpting from the suit filed by West’s company, The New York Post quotes:

“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. 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.'”

Whether a real business or not, the company seems to be no more after West’s legal action. Messages on both the Coinye site and a thread setup on Reddit seem to indicate developers have moved on. West also targeted some exchanges ready to work with the mysterious digital currency in his suit.

The new-age currency company tried to evade the issue by moving from a .com domain to a domain in India (.in), but even that couldn’t save them.

The moral of this crazy story is: Get your own name!

You can’t profit off the trademark, or name and likeness of a rich and famous person — no matter how clever the infringing name might be (and it was pretty catchy, we have to admit).

Before choosing a name for your business, be sure to research it to make sure you are not infringing on anyone else’s trademark. And understand the basic issues surrounding trademarks to better protect your business in the future.

Image: Coinyeco


Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Executive Editor for Small Business Trends and a professional journalist with more than 20 years experience in traditional and digital media for trade publications and news sites. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has served as a beat reporter, columnist, editorial writer, bureau chief and managing editor for the Berks Mont Newspapers.

9 Reactions
  1. It was never a business though, which is why I don’t believe these guys are in the wrong. It was just a group of guys with a funny pun of coin name. They didn’t have a product to sell. Coinye is a simple parody on a celebrity name, and it was quite clear they had nothing to do with Kanye himself. It even said as much VERY clearly on the FAQ on their website. (Before they took the whole site down.)

  2. I guess it just because it sounds the same way. Kanye knows that his name is quite unique and it is quite hard to imitate it. He has every right to sue somebody especially if he is trying to preserve his brand name.

  3. A unique business name is a must. This is what everyone need but no one knows clearly what to do in these types of situations. Great article.

    • You’re right. But more than just a name, you should also aim to preserve the personality of the name. You should keep the message consistent at all times.

  4. While I hate to see “big guys” using their legal muscle to intimidate companies like this, I agree that Kanye has a right to protect his image, reputation, etc. from people trying to ride his coattails without his consent.

  5. The coin since has new developers, has reopened pools, is going on two new exchanges this week, changed its logo, and is getting quite the media coverage for a “reborn coin”…..these internet denizens are a little resilient….

  6. I agree. When thinking of a name for a business or a product you’re offering or a service, whatever it is, come up with a unique name. After all, you don’t want to have all what you worked for to be ruined because of an infringement of a trademark right?