Ye’s burger case falls apart, but superfan left nourished by legal stoush with former idol

Never meet your heroes, the saying goes. That idiom could equally apply to litigation.

For Kanye West-themed burger joint owner Mark Elkhouri his courtroom brush with his idol, Ye, was a journey of self reflection that left him philosophical about his former hero.

Adidas terminated its lucrative design partnership with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, in late October.Credit:AP

Ye’s legal action against Elkhouri’s Ivanhoe burger joint, College Dropout Burgers, permanently crumbled in the Federal Court on Friday after the international rap star repeatedly failed to meet legal requirements for the action to continue.

The legal stoush broke out in early 2022 when Ye accused Elkhouri and his restaurant of misleading and deceptive conduct for, among other things, using the name of his 2004 album The College Dropout without his permission.

Justice Shaun McElwaine officially dismissed the matter, saying Ye had repeatedly failed to meet deadlines or communicate with Elkhouri’s legal team.

Just to check he wasn’t there, Justice McElwaine requested one of his associates to “call the representative for Mr Ye, or the person formerly known as Kanye West”.

Though the associate’s calls echoed through the halls of the federal court building, they went unanswered.

But Elkhouri did not walk away empty-handed.

Aside from legal costs being awarded against Ye, which Elkhouri’s lawyer Craig Smith admitted would be difficult to enforce, Elkhouri said he underwent a journey which has left the superfan admiring idols that are closer to home.

“Throughout this journey I have come to the realisation that my true idols are people that are close to me. My father Samuel Elkhouri, my wife Amanda Elkhouri,” he said.

“These are the people that have been supporting me from the get go. These are the people that I look up to on a daily basis. These are people that are realistic idols, I can follow in your footsteps.”

“I think I’d say thank you,” Elkhouri said, addressing Ye directly, “based on the fact that like it couldn’t have worked out any better”.

Mark Elkhouri outside court on Friday.Credit:Paul Jeffers

There’s no doubt that the lawsuit has put Elkhouri restaurant on the map. News of Ye’s lawsuit travelled all over the world, particularly as Ye’s behaviour became less predicable and more controversial of late.

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.

Ye had sought a permanent injunction preventing Elkhouri and his company from representing that its fast food products and/or restaurant are sponsored, approved or affiliated with Ye.

Ye’s claim said various album covers released between 2004 and 2007, including The College Dropout and Late Registration, feature a motif known as a Dropout Bear, which also appears in one of the rapper’s music videos.

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.

But at the last court hearing Elkhouri’s lawyers told the court Ye appeared to have gone cold. They had received no response from the rapper 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.

Outside court, Elkhouri was chipper. He wore a custom T-shirt emblazoned with the statement “I am not Kanye West,” and on the back “case dismissed, GOTCHA, ok thanks bye”.

“If it was a longer conversation, I’d probably ask why. That’s probably the first thing I’d ask, why. I’m happy to give him the benefit of the doubt, to explain himself of why,” he said.

It was a question that, for the time being, will likely remain unanswered.

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