Unveiling the Facts: Understanding Unstoppable Domains' ‘344 Patent

Nov 21, 2023·Last updated on Nov 21, 2023

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Unstoppable Domains (UD) obtained patent number 11,558,344, titled “Resolving Blockchain Domains,” on January 17, 2023 and quickly pledged non-assertion to use the patent to keep innovation open in the web3 domain space.  This ‘344 patent has become a focal point of discussion, especially due to certain claims made by the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) team the past week. We want to shed light on the key facts of the patent, address misleading statements, and clarify Unstoppable Domains' position.

Clarifying Patent Review

It is imperative to recognize the meticulous review process the ‘344 patent underwent and the transparency maintained by Unstoppable Domains throughout, including disclosure of prior art.  But don’t take our word for it, the ‘344 patent underwent thorough scrutiny by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Like any patent application, it was subject to extensive examination, considering all pertinent references. Notably, UD explicitly provided the USPTO with references from ENS.

The patent is directly related to the technology we deployed for our original “.crypto” registry on Ethereum and is distinct to our use, including many inventions that make it easier for a centralized company like ours to run a domain registry. For example, gasless transactions for users, which has been a feature at Unstoppable Domains for four years now. This is not something any other naming system did at that time.

Misleading Claims:

We refute the claim that we have stolen ENS’ intellectual property. Contrary to ENS's public statements, the ‘344 patent does not imply any theft of intellectual property (IP) from ENS. UD firmly rejects this assertion, emphasizing the accuracy of its patent application and the extensive review it underwent. The claim that UD stole ENS IP is unsubstantiated and incendiary. We patented technology we built and used ourselves for our system and our users, which is distinct from the system ENS has built.

Web3 Domain Alliance and Open Source Requests:

UD's participation in the Web3 Domain Alliance (W3DA) aligns with its commitment to industry fairness.  The company extended a Patent Non-Assertion pledge to W3DA members ,and in addition to .eth, despite the latter not joining. ENS's request for open-sourcing all patents overlooks UD's existing Patent Non-Assertion pledge for the ‘344 patent.

Cooperation, commitment to standards, and fostering innovation are essential for the growth of the web3 naming industry. UD remains steadfast in its commitment to openness, fairness, and the continued advancement of the web3 domain landscape.

Bigger Vision for Web3 Industry

Unstoppable remains committed to the Web3 Industry as we continue to roll out support for multiple naming services including .eth.  UD views patents as a necessary step to ensure fairness and freedom of operation in the web3 domain space, especially amid increased patent activity by larger Web2 Domain Registries. Contrary to ENS's assertions, our pursuit of patent protection is in line with standard practices in the web3 sector, where numerous companies, including Coinbase and Consensys, have filed for patents.

Coinbase alone has filed more than 80 applications, and these other leading web3 players are actively patenting their ideas including Consensys, Ripple Labs, Gemini, OKCoin, Chainanalysis, and Kucoin.

As a key member of the Web3 Domain Alliance, Unstoppable Domains remains committed to fairness and innovation. Our filing of patents, including the '344 patent for 'Resolving Blockchain Domains', are strategic moves to protect our freedom to operate and defend against potential encroachments by large Web2 domain registries or others that harm innovation. Per our prior non-assertion pledges, we unilaterally extended use to .eth and members of the web3 domain alliance, and we still are open to having ENS in the Web3 Domain Alliance, dedicated to the web3 industry as a whole.