Kanye West is not into crypto-currency. When a group of seven anonymous programmers recently announced that they would be launching Coinye, a Bitcoin cloned named for the rapper, West’s lawyers jumped into action and issued a cease-and-desist letter yesterday, arguing that the currency is trademark infringement. But it looks like it’s way too late—Coinye is going to launch today.
Ye’s lawyers complain that Coinye is deliberately confusing its users. “Given Mr. West’s wide-ranging entrepreneurial accomplishments, consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that Mr. West is the source of your services,” read the letter. That confusion could benefit Coinye’s programmers, who will likely hold a majority of the currency and profit if Coinye were to suddenly go viral, gaining real-world value.
The success of crypto-currencies is based on popularity: the more people using a currency, the more its value rises. One reason Bitcoin’s price is back hovering around $1000 is that it has the widest user-base of any digital currency, but Dogecoin (currently worth less than 1/100th of a penny) also recently made waves by piggybacking off of an already viral meme and finding an immediate audience with Internet geeks everywhere.
Crypto-currencies are also almost impossible to stamp out. Once their algorithm engines start generating coins, there’s no way to stop people from using them, save suing each and every one of the account holders. That’s why Coinye’s programmers are rushing their invention out, starting at 7 PM PST tonight, according to the countdown on their website. “We want to release this to the public before the man can try to crush it,” the programmers told the Wall Street Journal.
While it’s not a shock that Kanye’s trying to kill Coinye, it’s surprising that the rapper hasn’t launched his own name-brand crypto-currency already. What could be more pimp than minting money with your own face on it?