‘Done nothing’: Ye’s burger case goes cold after no response from rapper

Ye’s lawsuit against a Melbourne burger joint is set to crumble with lawyers representing the rapper, formerly known as Kanye West, seeking to withdraw from the case after he stopped engaging with them.

The legal stoush broke out in early 2022 when Ye accused Ivanhoe burger store-owner Mark Elkhouri and his restaurant College Dropout Burgers of misleading and deceptive conduct, and using the name of his 2004 album ‘College Dropout’ without his permission.

Ye was formerly known as Kanye West.Credit:Evan Agostini

Elkhouri’s barrister Chris Smith told Federal Court Justice Shaun McElwaine on Friday that College Dropout’s legal team had received no response from Ye in an application to secure legal costs before the case was to begin, a common legal practice when a party outside the jurisdiction brings a lawsuit.

Smith also argued that Ye had not taken sufficient steps to keep the legal case on foot.

“The applicant has taken a single substantive step so far in this proceeding, which is to initiate it … and then nothing since then,” he said.

“None of the various requests … none of those have been answered with any substance.”

Elkhouri, who was present in court on Friday, declined to comment.

Since the lawsuit was filed, Ye has engaged in verbal attacks towards Jewish people and praised Adolf Hitler. The statements prompted Education Minister Jason Clare to suggest that Ye would not be allowed in Australia should he attempt to enter.

In a 43-page statement of claim filed in October last year, Ye’s legal team took particular issue with the use of the business name College Dropout Burgers, noting The College Dropout was the title of their client’s debut album, released in 2004.

Court documents allege a burger called College Dropout also remains on the menu, despite numerous legal letters sent to the owner.

Mark Elkhouri, owner of College Dropout Burgers, was accused of misleading and deceptive conduct.Credit:Joe Armao

“Ye has suffered, and will continue to suffer, loss and damage,” the documents say. “Ye has sold more than 140 million records internationally and is one of the best-selling artists of all time.”

They say various album covers released between 2004 and 2007, including The College Dropout and Late Registration, feature an image of a motif known as a Dropout Bear, which also appears in the rapper’s music video for Good Morning.

Because of this and the fact he has been ranked as “one of the greatest 100 artists of all time”, Ye’s legal team claim, the Australian public expect that any business conducted or goods supplied that reference Ye would be affiliated with the US rapper.

The lawyers are seeking a permanent injunction preventing the Melbourne company from representing that its fast food products and/or restaurant are sponsored, approved or affiliated with Ye.

They’re also calling for Elkhouri to withdraw his Australian trademark application for College Dropout Burgers, destroy any material that references Ye or his branding, and pay their costs.

In June, Elkhouri said he had been forced to paint over a mural of the US rapper and erase a crowned teddy bear logo inspired by the College Dropout album art after receiving a cease-and-desist notice from Ye’s lawyers soon after he began following them on Instagram.

Ye, who has won more than 20 Grammy Awards, legally changed his name from Kanye Omari West to Ye in 2021.

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