In the dynamic world of blockchain and web3 innovation, a brewing dispute between Ethereum Name Service (ENS) and Unstoppable Domains has caught the attention of tech enthusiasts and industry observers alike. The crux of the matter? An alleged copying of technology, and it’s causing ripples in the blockchain pond.
The Unraveling Conflict
ENS, a key player since its establishment in 2017, has been a flagbearer of open source standards and a staunch advocate for managing the global domain name space as a public good. On the other side of the ring is Unstoppable Domains, a contender that has entered the arena with its blockchain-based domain name extensions, promising user-friendly alternatives to complex addresses.
Earlier this year, Unstoppable Domains proudly announced its first patent, titled “Resolving Blockchain Domains.” However, the plot thickens as Nick Johnson, lead developer of ENS, claims that this patent is not a product of Unstoppable Domains’ innovation but, rather, a reproduction of ENS-developed technologies. The accusation is clear: did Unstoppable Domains copy ENS tech?
The Patent Puzzle Unveiled
The heart of the matter lies in Unstoppable Domains’ granted patent and subsequent applications. Johnson points out that the patent titled “Resolving Blockchain Domains” lacks any original contribution from Unstoppable Domains and is, in fact, entirely derived from ENS innovations. The issue deepens as Unstoppable Domains applies for additional patents, including one that involves reserving names in a manner reminiscent of the traditional DNS “Sunrise Phase.”
The Clash of Titans in Web3 Naming
What makes this dispute particularly interesting is the clash between two giants in the web3 space. ENS simplifies cryptocurrency transactions by replacing complicated addresses with human-readable names, extending its functionality to decentralized websites and accessing IPFS content. On the flip side, Unstoppable Domains offers blockchain-based domain name extensions, represented as NFTs, providing ownership without recurring fees.
ENS’s Commitment to Open Source vs. UD’s Patent Pursuit
Nick Johnson, the brain behind ENS, emphasizes their commitment to open source values and open innovation. ENS has refrained from pursuing patents, aligning with its principles of fostering innovation in an open and collaborative environment. This stands in stark contrast to Unstoppable Domains, who, despite professing support for open innovation, is actively pursuing patents.
ENS’s Call to Action
In response to these developments, Nick Johnson has issued a call to action. ENS is skeptical about the legal enforceability of Unstoppable Domains’ commitment to the Web3 Domain Alliance. Johnson urges Unstoppable Domains to go beyond press releases and make an unconditional and irrevocable patent pledge, ensuring that their ownership of patents does not stifle innovation in web3 naming.
As the web3 ecosystem evolves, the clash between ENS and Unstoppable Domains serves as a microcosm of broader discussions around open source principles, patent practices, and the collaborative nature of technological advancements. The resolution of this dispute will undoubtedly impact the trajectory of innovation in the blockchain and web3 landscape.
In the unfolding blockchain debate, one question echoes: Did Unstoppable Domains copy ENS tech? The answer holds implications not only for these two entities but for the larger conversation surrounding intellectual property, open innovation, and the future of web3.