Matter Labs Abandons “ZK” Trademark Attempt Following Public Outcry

Matter Labs’ move to trademark the commonly-used acronym was met with condemnation from the web3 community.

By: Mehab Qureshi Loading...

Matter Labs Abandons “ZK” Trademark Attempt Following Public Outcry

Matter Labs, the team behind the ZkSync Ethereum scaling solutions, has ceased efforts to trademark the term "ZK."

On June 2, Matter Labs tweeted that it had decided to drop all trademark applications for the term ZK — a popular acronym referring to zero-knowledge cryptography.

The move came after Matter Labs found itself at the center of controversy after seeking to trademark the term in nine different jurisdictions.

“Thank you to everyone who reached out… offering ideas, support, and feedback,” Matter Labs tweeted on X. "As a result of these conversations, we decided to drop all trademark applications.”

Matter Labs’ efforts to trademark ZK attracted fierce criticism from rival teams working with zero-knowledge cryptography, including Polygon, Starkware, and Polyhedra. They argued that leveraging the legal system to claim the popular and longstanding acronym violated the ethos of web3.

"We condemn this behavior in the strongest possible terms, as a transparent attempt by a corporation to claim ownership over something that does not belong to it," an open letter said. "ZK should remain a public good. It shouldn’t be a trademark of a corporation: it should rather be accessible to all."

The projects also argued that Matter Labs was seeking to leverage the trademark to ensure its forthcoming token will trade under the ticker ZK — despite Polyhedra’s token already trading under that ticker.

Matter Labs responded by claiming it wished to find a way to ensure the term “ZK” functioned as a public good while maintaining the trademark.

“It would be impossible to agree on a group of people perceived as credibly neutral by nearly everyone,” the company said in its June 2 tweet. “What could have worked for Ethereum would not necessarily work for the entire world."

The timing of the backlash comes as rumors are swirling that ZkSync will airdrop its long-awaited to users in mid-June.

Speculation that the project would airdrop a token to early adopters ramped up when Matter Labs launched ZkSync Era, its zk-EVM network, in March 2023. The deployment took place within days of Arbitrum, the largest Layer 2 network by TVL, completing its ten-figure airdrop.

ZkSync Era is now the ninth-largest Layer 2 network by total value locked (TVL), according to L2beat. Its DeFi ecosystem also boasts a TVL of $145 million, according to data from DefiLlama.