Ethereum Name Service Criticizes Unstoppable Domains’ Patent as a Threat to Open-Source Principles
Unstoppable Domains has been accused by Nick Johnson, the lead developer of Ethereum Name Service (ENS), of patenting ENS-developed innovations without making any unique contributions. Johnson expressed his concerns in an open letter posted on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) on November 16.
Unstoppable Domains’ “Anti-Open Innovation” Activities
Johnson highlighted how Unstoppable Domains’ patenting efforts contradict the principles of open innovation. He pointed out that Unstoppable Domains recently made an application to reserve names, similar to the “Sunrise Phase” commonly used in the Domain Name Service (DNS) world for many years. In contrast, ENS, despite being a leader in the field, has chosen not to patent its innovations and has made them publicly available under open-source licenses.
Johnson stressed the importance of Unstoppable Domains legally committing to donate its first patent under an “unconditional and irrevocable patent pledge.” He warned that if Unstoppable Domains fails to do so, ENS Labs is ready to challenge the patent, which they believe is derived from their own inventions.
Johnson concluded the letter by emphasizing the significance of permissionless innovation and open standards in the web3 ecosystem. He requested Unstoppable Domains’ cooperation in ensuring that web3 naming remains a space for innovation.
Unstoppable Domains’ Response
In response, Matthew Gould, the founder of Unstoppable Domains, reiterated his company’s commitment to driving advancements in web3 naming standards. He emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts and discussions in navigating the evolving landscape of the industry.
Johnson proposed that Unstoppable Domains extend the openness of their patent licensing beyond ENS, citing examples such as patent non-aggression pacts used by companies like IBM. Gould broadened the discussion, highlighting the potential implications for the broader industry, suggesting that the focus on Unstoppable Domains could easily shift to patents or trademarks from companies in different regions.
Gould invited ENS to join the Web3 Domain Alliance to foster an environment conducive to open dialogue and collaboration in shaping the future of web3 naming standards.