By Shan Li
12:26 PM PST, January 8, 2014
Kanye West, the artist, performer and fiance of Kim Kardashian, is not a fan of Coinye, a digital currency that bears his image.
The currency -- modeled after bitcoin and featuring West's likeness as the face of a fish sporting sunglasses and a necklace -- launched Tuesday night, according its official website.
But West's attorneys have sent a cease-and-desist letter to the anonymous coders who created Coinye, demanding that his image and name be removed from any association with the virtual currency.
"The Coinye West mark is substantially similar to the Kanye West mark in sight, sound, meaning and commercial impression," the letter said. "Your clear intent is to trade upon the goodwill associated with the Kanye West mark and Mr. West's international fame and notoriety."
The letter goes on to cite interviews the creators have given to media outlets in which they state that they choose to remain anonymous "in case Kanye gets pissed off."
"Such statements support a finding that your infringement is blatant and willful," West's attorneys wrote.
Although West may be the first person whose image has graced a virtual currency, the fast rise of bitcoin has already inspired competing crypto-currencies to pop up.
Bitcoin itself has seen increasing acceptance, with a university in Cyprus and many business in the U.S. accepting it as a form of payment, as well as heightened scrutiny. China's central bank, for one, last year imposed tight restrictions on the currency's use.
Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times