Matter Labs faces backlash over ‘zero-knowledge’ trademark attempt Matter Labs faces backlash over ‘zero-knowledge’ trademark attempt

Matter Labs faces backlash over ‘zero-knowledge’ trademark attempt

Matter Labs' CEO Alex Gluchowski said he is opposed to the "very idea of โ€œIntellectual Property."

Matter Labs faces backlash over ‘zero-knowledge’ trademark attempt

Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate. Image includes combined content which may include AI-generated content.

Several Ethereum-related projects โ€” including StarkWare, Polyhedra, and Polygon โ€” condemned Matter Labs’ efforts to trademark “zero-knowledge” as its intellectual property in a May 30 joint statement.

The statement was signed by notable industry figures, including Polygon co-founders Sandeep Nailwal and Brendan Farmer, StarkWare CEO Eli Ben-Sasson, Polyhedra Network co-founder Tiancheng Xie, and Turing Award winner Shafi Goldwasser.

‘ZK is a public good’

Zero Knowledge (ZK) blockchains have gained wide popularity as a solution that enhances developers’ security and scalability. By leveraging the robust security of existing layer-1 blockchains like Ethereum, ZK blockchains allow decentralized applications (dApps) to achieve higher throughput and faster transactions.

These blockchains protect users’ personal information by keeping it off-chain and reduce costs for end-users through batched transaction publishing.

Industry experts assert that “ZK is a public good that should belong to everyone.” They argue that Matter Labs’ attempt to trademark the term contradicts the ethos of crypto, Ethereum, and its principles. They stated:

“ZK should remain a public good. It shouldn’t be a trademark of a corporation: it should rather be accessible for all.”

Polygon corroborated this view in a separate social media post.

The Ethereum layer-2 blockchain network opined that “openness is fundamental to Ethereum and must be preserved, especially regarding core mathematical principles.” It added:

“[Matter Labs] may claim to do this for the benefit of users. But ask yourself: Will users truly benefit if one company monopolizes zk technology? Would zkSync as a network even exist without the zk technology developed by Polygon Labs? No, a trademark on ‘zk’ actually introduces user harm through confusion.”

Consequently, the crypto leaders urge the community to demand the withdrawal of Matter Labs’ trademark applications.

Matter Labs response

In response to the allegations, Matter Labs CEO Alex Gluchowski stated his opposition to the concept of intellectual property. He emphasized that the trademarks were designed to protect crypto users rather than the company.

He added:

“All the trademarks we had ever registered, including ZK-related ones, are defensive, to prevent dishonest actors from misleading their customers and confusing their products and services with the ones offered by Matter Labs.”

Gluchowski also mentioned that Matter Labs had contacted the Ethereum Foundation’s legal team and offered to collaborate on creating a legal framework for using “ZK” and similar critical tech terms in the public domain.

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