Dutch Student Sued By Kanye West Over Coinye Rejects Kanye's Settlement Offers; Prepares Countersuit

from the picking-a-fight-with-someone-who-has-nothing-to-lose dept

You may have heard the story from earlier this year about how, as lots of people were having fun creating random new cryptocurrencies, some folks decided to make a one which they originally called Coinye West. Kanye West’s (very expensive) lawyers didn’t like this, and sent a cease and desist letter. The developers then changed the name of the currency to just Coinye, and claimed it no longer had anything to do with Kanye. Not surprisingly, the rapper’s lawyers disagreed, and filed a somewhat crazy 124-page lawsuit against a bunch of John Does… and even Amazon.com for hosting the currency’s website (apparently, his lawyers don’t understand secondary liability very well).

In March, West’s lawyers racked up some more billable hours by amending the complaint with some actual names including a Dutch student named Robbie Hontelé — who had, at times, acted as a sort of spokesperson for COINYE-exchanges. Hontelé responded to the lawsuit a few weeks ago with a short video where this student with “no money for lawyers” does a pretty good job (even admitting he’s not a native English speaker, and never been to the US) outlining how the lawsuit is bogus:

As he notes, there are jurisdictional problems in addition to the fact that they did not properly serve him. The court allowed service over email (contrary to rules that require physical documents to be served) by saying that since the defendants used anonymizing services, that was the only way to do so. Except, in the case of Hontelé, he’s never done anything to try to be anonymous. But, more importantly, he points out that he nothing to do with the naming, design or creation of Coinye, despite what the lawsuit claims. Finally, he points out that the whole thing is a waste of time and money by Kanye West, and there is no way that West could collect anything even if West prevailed in NY. Instead, he proposed that West drop the case against him, provide a letter that he can use with his job application saying that he was wrongfully accused and, finally, a public apology.

West’s lawyers apparently realized that it was a mistake to go after Hontelé, so they sent him a “settlement” offer — in which he’d agree to a somewhat broad “permanent injunction” basically barring him from ever having anything to do with anything related to Kanye West or Coinye. This injunction includes saying he can’t even use a website that makes use of the Kanye West trademark or mentions Coinye (even legally). It appears he would be violating the injunction if he so much as read a blog about Kanye West or Coinye. He’d also be barred from having anything to do with any currency that ever bore the likeness of Kanye — even if he had nothing to do with adding Kanye’s likeness (so, say he bought some Dogecoin, and someone totally unrelated to him made a Dogecoin image with Kanye on it, he could be breaking the injunction). There was much more in the injunction, but it was way overbroad. Yes, they would agree to “settle” the lawsuit, but basically, even though Hontelé hadn’t really done anything wrong, they were going to bar him from all sorts of perfectly reasonable activity.

In response, Hontelé has shared with us his response to West’s lawyers, in which he turns down their request — and notes that he is intending to file a countersuit in the Netherlands for damaging his reputation.

Dear sir/madam,

In response to your request to settle I am writing you this message.

Thank you for your offer; unfortunately I am not able to sign your offer. As stated before I do not have the money to hire a lawyer with knowledge of American law. I therefore have not been able to get proper counsel on what the consequences of this agreement could be. Aside from that: I feel that signing any offer to settle would imply guilt.

I am confident that when this goes to trial in the Netherlands the judge will rule in favour of me. I feel obligated to let you know that I am planning to file a counter-suit against Kanye West / Mascotte Holdings for damaging my good name. I am available to talk about a settlement on that front, as I have not made any considerable legal costs in that matter.

Yours sincerely,

Robbie Hontelé

I certainly don’t know nearly enough about Dutch law to know if such a suit is likely to succeed, but it really seems like maybe Kanye West’s expensive Manhattan lawyers could have done a better job “protecting” their client by just ignoring a silly little thing like Coinye.

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Companies: mascotte holdings

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Comments on “Dutch Student Sued By Kanye West Over Coinye Rejects Kanye's Settlement Offers; Prepares Countersuit”

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Just Another Anonymous Troll says:

This guy should offer to settle with Kanye with an overly broad injunction stating that Kanye may not interact with lawyers ever again, including but not limited to making eye contact with someone who has a law degree on the street.
I wanna see his head explode when he realizes how masterfully he has been trolled.

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