Burger store bunfight: Ye takes beef with Melbourne eatery to Federal Court

A legal fight between a Melbourne burger shop and US rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, has taken a bitter turn, with lawyers claiming College Dropout Burgers continues to have food on its menu named after the artist’s 2004 album.

In documents filed at the Federal Court, lawyers for West, who recently divorced billionaire wife Kim Kardashian, have accused Ivanhoe burger store owner Mark Elkhouri of misleading and deceptive conduct and say neither his store nor products are approved for use by Ye.

The logo, based on West’s College Dropout bear, has to change. Credit:Joe Armao

In a 43-page statement of claim filed on Friday, 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.

The north-east Melbourne store’s $18 “signature burger” comes with a two beef patties, two slices of cheese, fried chicken, onion and “dropout sauce”.

Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, has upped his legal action against an Ivanhoe burger store.Credit:AP

“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.”

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

Ye’s lawyers have also taken issue with the restaurant’s online use of a silhouetted image of a bear.

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.

Mark Elkhouri, owner of Ivanhoe eatery College Dropout Burgers, is facing legal action from the artist formerly known as Kanye West, now known as Ye.Credit:Joe Armao

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.

On Monday, Elkhouri maintained his store had already removed all references to Ye and established a new direction, theme and brand identity.

“I can’t understand what would motivate a major artist to sue a small humble burger restaurant on the other side of the world,” Elkhouri said.

The Federal Court action follows legal letters the Ye’s lawyers said they sent to Elkhouri in February and June asking him to stop referencing the rapper and his branding in his business operations.

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.

Mark Elkhouri has renamed his burgers after famous college dropouts. Credit:Joe Armao

The burger store also abandoned menu names playing on Ye song titles, including a fried chicken burger called Golddigger, a breakfast burger named Good Morning, and a Cheezus burger named after album Yeezus.

At the time, Elkhouri said the store would continue to be named College Dropout Burgers but instead serve up meals named after famous people who dropped out of education, including Steven Spielberg, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

Ye’s lawyers declined to comment.

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