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Ethereum Name Service challenges Unstoppable Domains' patent

Ethereum Name Service has filed a petition against Unstoppable Domains over a 2023 patent claim.

The logos for Ethereum Name Service and Unstoppable Domains facing each other with a patent document and USPTO seal between them

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Ethereum Name Service (ENS) has petitioned the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to challenge the validity of a patent obtained by Unstoppable Domains (UD) in 2023. ENS claims that UD’s patent utilizes technology that ENS had developed and open-sourced.

In a statement on social media platform X, ENS explained that UD obtained a patent for technology that ENS Labs developed with the intent of being open-source.

Both ENS and UD provide domain name and wallet services with top-level domains (TLDs) such as .crypto, .eth, and similarly branded names that form an affinity with the crypto space. ENS alleges that UD patented “ENS’s pioneering technology, directly leveraging our open-source innovations” and that ENS’ contributions were even cited in the patent.

“We gave UD every opportunity to avoid this battle: UD refused to open source the patent and refused to make any irrevocable pledges not to use the patent to the detriment of the community,” ENS stated.

In response to the petition, Unstoppable Domains founder Matthew Gould stated on X that the patent was reviewed by the examiner with the citations to ENS in place. Gould argued that patents are valid and that “filing patents is very common in both web3 and the domain industry.”

On this note, Nick Johnson, the lead developer of ENS, asked Gould to cite the key innovation in UD’s patent that wasn’t already part of ENS.

At the time of writing, Gould is yet to reply to Johnson’s query, a lack of response for which the latter posted two cricket emojis.

In his initial response to ENS’ thread, Gould argues that Unstoppable Domains has several other patents pending and will continue to file patents to “protect” the company. Gould also mentions that his company had made a non-assertion pledge over a year ago and views the issue as resolved.

In July 2022, Unstoppable Domains raised $65 million in a Series A round led by Pantera Capital, sending the firm’s valuation to a unicorn status at $1 billion. ENS, on the other hand, operates based on a set of decentralized smart contracts for an open and public infrastructure.

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