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Poor Kanye West -- The Victim Is Criticized: Is "Coinye" Really A Trademark Parody?

Poor Kanye West -- The Victim Is Criticized: Is "Coinye" Really A Trademark Parody?

Jan 10 2014, 3:43pm CST | by

It is easy to jump on the egomaniacal-celebrity-can’t-take-a-joke bandwagon.  But in truth, he may have something here.  People are entitled to poke fun, to parody and even take “inspiration” from...

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27 weeks ago

Poor Kanye West -- The Victim Is Criticized: Is "Coinye" Really A Trademark Parody?

Jan 10 2014, 3:43pm CST | by

It is easy to jump on the egomaniacal-celebrity-can’t-take-a-joke bandwagon.  But in truth, he may have something here.  People are entitled to poke fun, to parody and even take “inspiration” from celebrities, their images and their names.  Always, it is a question of what crosses the line and goes from parody or simple amusement to the point of diminishing someone’s rights to their name or property.

Kanye has done what any sophisticated celebrity will do these days: register and protect his name as a trademark. That does not prevent people from speaking or using his name.  His name is still his name. But when he starts to use his name on goods or services, especially if it is a famous name, he does have the right to stop people from taking actions that would weaken the connection between him and anything seemingly bearing his name.

The Coinye website states, “we would like to make it clear that we are entirely independent of the man. The name “Coinye” is intended solely as parody, not an indication or implication of endorsement or involvement.”  That helps, but these types of disclaimers are not by any means automatic.  Otherwise, I could sell counterfeit watches on the Internet as long as I put up a notice on my site that said “just kidding.”  (As a matter of fact, that is exactly what some people do, but they get sued daily – a whole ‘nother story.)  Will their disclaimer be enough to fend off the lawyers and win the day?  Almost certainly not as to the first part, and a resounding “maybe” to the second.  All revolves around what consumers would think, and much of that ultimately would need to be proven by one of two types of proof: a consumer survey or instances of actual confusion.

The effect on the value of Kanye West’s brand is one of the prime concerns cited in the cease-and-desist letter. “Given Mr. West’s wide-ranging entrepreneurial accomplishments,” it states, “consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that Mr. West is the source of your services.”  Being a successful and even famous celebrity does not automatically mean that consumers will be mistaken by use of the name on particular products or services.  But when high-profile celebrities receive significant compensation for associating their names and likenesses with a product or service beyond their particular specialties,  then a legitimate question about damage to the celebrity’s brand arises.  If Kanye used his brand only on musical recordings and entertainment, maybe the public would not ever believe that an unrelated product would come from him.  It is important to recognize the fact that there is a distinction to be made: the public maybe “gets” the association between Coinye and the real life Kanye. But if Kanye has no reputation for selling or endorsing anything, then maybe consumers will not believe this has his approval or association.

Where a celebrity allows this type of use to go unaddressed, it is risking that the next infringer will make an argument that goes something like this: “Hey, there was ‘Coinye’ and you didn’t do anything about that,” so therefore the public recognizes there are lots of uses out there which refer to you but which you do not control.

Every time you decide not to act to protect your brand, you run at least some risk of longer-term damage.

There is nothing new about the power of co-opting a well-known name to increase exposure for a lesser-known entity. Sometimes it is not fair, but it is legal as long as no one is harmed or unless the public has some strong free speech right (which is not usually related to a for-profit product like this one).  But we do need to remind ourselves of something else: just because the “victim” may be a big name, big reputation celebrity and reality-TV figure, it doesn’t mean their efforts to say “no” are wrong.

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
10

6 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Cambodia's Famous Battambang Circus
KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was told toda ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

6 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Melbourne Rising Media Launch
KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken into by ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

6 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Federal Aviation Administration Bans All US Flights To Israel
KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the Dewan ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

6 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Min ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

6 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

INDIA-CHINA-DIPLOMACY-TRADE
PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selata ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

6 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Government Weekly Cabinet Meeting
KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 m ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minist ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

7 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Iskandar Johor Open - Previews
JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an allocation of RM20 milli ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM - Day One
PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar Sch ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Skywa ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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