ENS Labs Challenges Unstoppable Domain’s Patent on Blockchain Domain Name Resolution

News | May 20, 2024 By:

On Thursday, May 2, 2024, ENS Labs Ltd. filed a petition requesting inter partes review of Unstoppable Domain Inc.’s patent on blockchain domain name resolution.

In the filing before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, ENS Labs argued that Unstoppable Domain’s Patent No. 11,558,344 should be invalidated because the concepts were previously described. ENS Labs cited several prior art references, including documentation from 2016-2017 about the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) – a system for mapping human-readable names like “alice.eth” to blockchain addresses and content using smart contracts.

Smart contracts are programs stored on blockchains that automatically execute transactions when certain conditions are met. ENS utilizes smart contracts as resolvers and a registry to link domain names to blockchain resources in a similar manner to how the Domain Name System (DNS) associates web addresses to internet protocol addresses.

The petition claimed ENS was designed to function analogously to DNS, but on the Ethereum blockchain. It referenced works demonstrating ENS could resolve .onion addresses and return a variety of record types through custom resolvers, like email addresses,Uniform Resource Identifiers, and textual descriptions.

ENS Labs also drew upon prior art describing non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a type of cryptographic asset used to represent ownership of digital items. NFT standards from 2018 were cited as further evidence that associating domain names with blockchain addresses using NFTs was previously known.

In its arguments, ENS Labs contended Unstoppable Domain’s patent merely implemented a domain name resolution process akin to what ENS had established years earlier. If successful, the inter partes review could invalidate the asserted claims and preempt Unstoppable Domain’s monopoly on the proposed blockchain domain mapping technology.

A decision by the patent office is pending, as the case may establish whose intellectual property controls an important piece of cryptographic and domain name infrastructure moving forward.

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.