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Matter Labs withdraws ‘ZK’ trademark plans following community outcry

matter-labs-withdraws-zk-trademark-plans-following-community-outcry
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Matter Labs withdraws ‘ZK’ trademark plans following community outcry

Matter Labs, the team behind Ethereum’s layer-2 scaling solution zkSync, has decided to abandon its efforts to trademark the term “ZK” — short for “zero knowledge” proofs.

The firm’s decision came three days after many senior ZK researchers blasted the firm’s behavior “in the strongest possible terms,” emphasizing that ZK innovations should instead be a “public good” that is “accessible to all.”

“As a result of these conversations, we decided to drop all trademark applications,” Matter Labs stated in a June 2 X post.

“It would be impossible to reach an agreement on a group of persons who were almost universally recognized as credibly impartial. What worked for Ethereum may not be applicable to the entire world.”

In a public letter, ZK advocates stated that ZKs should remain a public good rather than a corporation’s trademark and that a firm attempting to use the legal system to annex a public good would violate a basic tenet of the cryptocurrency sector.

“If the company goes through with this, it will be separating itself from the very community it claims to be a part of,” the signatories stated in the letter on May 30.

Seven people signed the letter, including Shafi Goldwasser and Silvio Micali, two of the three creators of ZK-proofs, StarkWare CEO Eli Ben-Sasson, and Polygon Labs co-founder Sandeep Nailwal.

Matter Labs first stated that it applied for ZK-related trademarks to ensure that ZK could be freely used in conjunction with “ZK Sync,” “ZK Stack,” and other names associated with the company.

“A common misconception is that having a trademark means you legally own a particular word or phrase and can prevent others from using it,” Matter Labs stated. “However, you don’t have rights to the word or phrase in general, only to how that word or phrase is used with your specific goods or services.”

The issue over ZkSync’s trademark application arose just as the protocol was preparing for an airdrop scheduled for mid-June.

ZkSync is one of the most popular Ethereum Layer 2 blockchains, designed on ZK-proof technology rather than the optimistic rollup strategy used by networks like Optimism, Arbitrum, or Blast.

Meanwhile, Circle, the issuer of USDC stablecoin, said on March 28 that its USDC stablecoin would be natively integrated into the ZkSync ecosystem. The integration marks a progressive step in enhancing liquidity and usability within zkSync for increased efficiency and reduced costs.