Ethereum Name Service and Unstoppable Domains Engage in Patent Dispute
In the heart of the NFT (Non-Fungible Token) domain world, a fierce controversy has erupted between two industry leaders, Ethereum Name Service (ENS) and Unstoppable Domains (UD), causing a rift within the community and sparking debates over patent rights.
It all began when Nick Johnson, the key developer behind ENS, took to Twitter to air grievances regarding patent disputes between the two entities. In a series of tweets, Johnson emphasized ENS’s commitment to open-source principles and its opposition to pursuing patents, contrasting it with UD’s recent patent endeavors.
“Since its founding in 2017, ENS has been a consistent advocate of open source, open standards, and governing the global namespace as a public good,” Johnson stated in his Twitter thread, highlighting ENS’s dedication to making their work accessible and licensable for anyone.
An Open Letter RE: Blockchain Domain Name Patents
Since its founding in 2017, ENS has been a consistent and outspoken advocate of open source, open standards, and the importance of governing the global namespace as a public good.
— nick.eth (@nicksdjohnson) November 16, 2023
The crux of the contention lies in UD’s pursuit of patents, with Johnson pointing out that UD’s first patent, “Resolving Blockchain Domains” (US11558344), heavily relies on innovations developed by ENS without contributing any novel advancements of its own. Moreover, UD’s continued efforts in patent acquisition, including a recent application for reserving names similar to the traditional “Sunrise Phase” in DNS, have escalated tensions within the community.
In response to Johnson’s public address, Matthew Gould, the founder of Unstoppable Domains, remained relatively non-committal and extended an invitation to collaborate through the Web3 Domain Alliance. Gould emphasized the importance of standards bodies in shaping the future of web3 naming, inviting ENS to join forces for the advancement of the entire domain ecosystem.
Hi Nick, thanks for taking the time to have these conversations with us the past couple months. We continue to offer an open invitation to join the web3 domain alliance and advance web3 naming for all systems – not just ENS. Just like ICANN was essential to DNS, standards bodies…
— matt.x (@matthewegould) November 16, 2023
While the exchange between the two figures seemed amicable on the surface, the underlying patent dispute has stirred concerns about the impact on innovation and the openness of the web3 naming space. ENS remains resolute in advocating for open innovation and has expressed readiness to challenge UD’s patents, asserting that UD’s patents are derivative of their own inventions.
The controversy has divided the community, with some supporting ENS’s stance on open innovation, while others believe in the defensive use of patents for protection. As the debate rages on, the future of NFT domain naming and the principles that govern it hang in the balance, awaiting resolution between these industry giants.
As the industry continues to evolve, the outcome of this dispute will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of NFT domain governance and innovation, underscoring the critical need for collaboration and open dialogue within the burgeoning web3 ecosystem.
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