Battle for “ZK”: zkSync’s Trademark Bid Condemned by Industry Leaders

Battle for “ZK”: zkSync’s Trademark Bid Condemned by Industry Leaders
Table of Contents


  • zkSync Trademark Tension: Matter Labs’ attempt to trademark the term “zero-knowledge” (ZK) has sparked controversy in the crypto community, with industry leaders calling it an “absurd IP grab” and a move against the open and collaborative ethos of the sector.
  • Crypto Leaders Unite: Influential figures, including CEOs and co-founders of major blockchain companies, have publicly condemned Matter Labs’ actions, emphasizing that ZK technology is a public good and should remain freely accessible.
  • Matter Labs’ Stance: In response to the backlash, Alex Gluchowski of Matter Labs claims that their trademarks are defensive, and aimed at protecting consumers.

As zero-knowledge technology gains traction in the Ethereum Layer 2 space, a battle over the use of the acronym “ZK” has erupted. The controversy centers around zkSync, a Layer 2 scaling solution developed by Matter Labs. Here’s what you need to know:

The zkSync Controversy

At the heart of the matter lies the attempt by Matter Labs to trademark the term “zero-knowledge” (ZK). Zero-knowledge technology is a powerful cryptographic protocol that allows one party (the prover) to convince another party (the verifier) of the truth of a claim without revealing any underlying details.

It’s a fundamental concept in privacy-preserving technologies and has applications beyond just blockchain. Matter Labs’ move to claim exclusive ownership of the ZK ticker has ignited outrage within the crypto community.

Eli Ben-Sasson, CEO of StarkWare, minced no words when he called it an “absurd IP grab.” Industry leaders argue that ZK is a public good—a foundational building block for secure and private transactions—and should remain accessible to all.

Industry Giants Speak Out

A public letter signed by influential figures in the crypto world has surfaced, condemning Matter Labs’ actions. Among the signatories are:

  • Sandeep Nailwal and Brendan Farmer, co-founders of Polygon
  • Eli Ben-Sasson, CEO of StarkWare
  • Tiancheng Xie, co-founder of Polyhedra Network and inventor of zkBridge
  • Shafi Goldwasser, Turing Award winner and co-inventor of ZK-proofs

Battle for “ZK”: zkSync’s Trademark Bid Condemned by Industry Leaders

These industry giants assert that Matter Labs’ attempt to monopolize ZK technology is “oppressive behavior.” They emphasize that the ethos of the crypto community revolves around openness, collaboration, and shared knowledge. Exploiting the legal system to annex a public good contradicts these principles.

Matter Labs’ Defense

In response to the mounting backlash, Alex Gluchowski, founder and CEO of Matter Labs, penned a defense statement. He categorically rejected the concept of intellectual property, stating that all the trademarks registered by Matter Labs, including those related to ZK, are defensive measures. Their goal is to prevent bad actors from confusing customers by misrepresenting their products and services.

The Enormous Potential of ZK Technology

Despite the controversy, one thing remains clear: ZK cryptography holds immense promise. StarkWare’s Ben-Sasson emphasized that ZK technology extends far beyond blockchain. “ZK cryptography has massive potential for humanity,” he said. While blockchain pioneers its initial use case, the hope is that it will eventually find applications in various domains.

As the battle for “ZK” rages on, the crypto community watches closely, hoping that the spirit of collaboration prevails over proprietary claims. After all, the true power of zero-knowledge lies in its accessibility and democratization—a principle that transcends any single company’s interests.


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