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News/Matter Labs Faces Backlash Over 'ZK' Trademark Bid, Community Defends

Matter Labs Faces Backlash Over 'ZK' Trademark Bid, Community Defends

Van Thanh Le

May 31 2024

2 months ago3 minutes read
Crypto factions battle, towering mosaic robot, defiance

Crypto Industry in Turmoil Over Matter Labs' ZK Trademark Move

Matter Labs' attempt to trademark "zero-knowledge" as exclusive intellectual property across nine countries has sparked significant backlash. Industry figures, including StarkWare's CEO Eli Ben-Sasson, criticized the move as an “absurd IP grab,” akin to patenting bread.

public letter signed by notable figures such as Polygon co-founders Sandeep Nailwal and Brendan Farmer, and Turing Award winner Shafi Goldwasser, demanded the withdrawal of the trademark application. The letter stressed that "ZK" technology should remain a public good, not private property. 

However, Alex Gluchowski, Matter Labs' CEO, defended the trademarks as a defensive measure to prevent customer confusion. 

Exchange platforms reacted swiftly. KuCoin Convert announced it would delist Polyhedra's ZK token on May 31, 2024, to avoid confusion with Matter Labs' zkSync token. Bybit also announced they would adjust Polyhedra's token ticker, listing zkSync under "ZK."

After all the drama, Polyhedra Network, developing the zkBridge protocol and using the "ZK" ticker for their token, decided to rebrand their ticker to "ZKJ" to symbolize unity and openness within the ZK community. 

Their ZK token has dropped to as low as $1.14 before slightly recovering, still down 70% from its all-time high in March.


Part of the crypto community voiced skepticism over Matter Labs' justification for the trademark, questioning the lack of early collaboration with other stakeholders. Critics like Brendan Farmer, Hudson Jameson from Polygon Labs, and Micah Zoltu called for the trademarks to be relinquished.

In contrast, a segment of the community has come forward to support zkSync while also using teasing sarcasm towards other projects, implying that they are “envious” and are allegedly obstructing zkSync from securing the ZK ticker.

Zero-knowledge cryptography, which verifies transactions without disclosing counterparties' data, was first applied in the Zcoin and Zcash protocols in 2016. Matter Labs' zkSync Era, the ninth-largest Ethereum Layer 2, holds a total value locked of $867 million.


This controversy highlights the necessity of collaboration and the protection of public goods within the blockchain and crypto sectors, as well as the complexities of intellectual property issues in fast-evolving technologies.


What is the controversy about?

Matter Labs, the team behind zkSync, applied for trademarks on the term "zero-knowledge" (ZK) across nine countries, sparking backlash from the crypto community. Concerns were raised over the potential privatization of a public good and lack of early collaboration.

Who opposes Matter Labs' move?

Notable figures like StarkWare's CEO Eli Ben-Sasson, Polygon co-founders Sandeep Nailwal and Brendan Farmer, Turing Award winner Shafi Goldwasser, and projects like Linea and Polyhedra Network have criticized or taken action against the ZK trademark bid.

How did Matter Labs justify the trademarks?

Matter Labs' CEO Alex Gluchowski defended the trademarks as a defensive measure to prevent customer confusion, claiming they reject the idea of intellectual property and release everything open-source.

What actions were taken by exchanges?

KuCoin Convert announced delisting Polyhedra's ZK token, while Bybit decided to adjust Polyhedra's token ticker to "ZKJ" to avoid confusion with zkSync's ZK token.

How did Polyhedra Network respond?

Polyhedra Network rebranded their token ticker from "ZK" to "ZKJ" to symbolize unity and openness within the ZK community, with HashKey Global supporting the ticker update.

This article has been refined and enhanced by ChatGPT.

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