Hello Zcashers and Community Members
I would like to share some thoughts
1. The current problems
The ZF’s Trademark Policy in its current form is greatly restrictive and unnecessarily bureaucratic and inefficient.
Last week we had the debacle with MightyJaxx and ECC. Where the bureaucratic inefficiencies of the ZF’s Trademark Policy and ECC-ZF TM Agreement blew up in the open. The ECC started a marketing campaign and collaborated with a Singaporean collectibles company to design Cypherpunk Zero dolls and NFTs intended to go on auction. It all came to a halt when the ZF asserted that the ECC cannot not pursue this type of marketing relationship due to the language under section 6.1 of the ECC-ZF Trademark Agreement. That even the ECC couldn’t use the Zcash trademarks for a Zcash marketing campaign without agreement from ZF struck me as kinda crazy.
It has apparently been resolved.
This is not the first time that the ZF shot down friendly projects based on the ZF’s Trademark Policy.
In November I wanted to start a sticker store selling stickers with the Zcash logo to community members. I didn’t want to sign a trademark agreement because I didn’t want to dox myself just for selling stickers. I was told it was impossible to sign the agreement under a pseudonym, and threatened with enforcement if I went ahead with the project. I shut it down.
All of these legal knots are very detrimental to Zcash protocol, hindering the project, adding needless bureaucracy, and unnecessary complexity. It is not helping. This is not conducive to growing the Zcash protocol. Other projects do not have all these walls; they are more agile, allowing community members to contribute without needing legal instruments. All the fighting is becoming quite toxic and will put off people from engaging, joining or contributing to the Zcash eco-system. If we want to fight over the ZF’s Trademark Policy every now and then, rather than to be more open and permissive, we are heading in the wrong direction, in my opinion.
2. Usecases we want to avoid
There are use cases where we want to protect the Zcash trademarks from being used and potentially abused. Blockchain projects using the Zcash trademarks - for instance a Zcash Gold chain and crypto scams.
What other use cases would we want to prevent using the Zcash trademarks apart from scams, other chains or crypto related projects?
3. Allowing the use of the Zcash TM for Commercial Use
I suggest loosening the ZF’s Trademark Policy to allow the Zcash logo to be used for ‘friendly’ broad commercial use. Where it doesn’t hurt the brand, and has a positive or non negative effect on the Zcash brand. And clearly excluding the trademarks to be used in use cases outlined above for instance blockchain clients. ECC or ZF should be able to pursue a marketing campaign without needing the third party to sign an agreement. The ZF’s Trademark Policy should be as open and permissive as possible while protecting it from malicious use.
4. Concerns about Trademark abandonment
Jack Gavigan said on the Zcash Telegram group, that not policing the ZF’s Trademark Policy in its current form ‘’would risk effectively abandoning the trademark’’.
I am not advocating for the tearing up or abandoning of the ZF’s Trademark Policy, and a situation where we lose it needs to be avoided. However, the question whether allowing a very wide use of a trademark would be the same as abandoning it needs to be answered by a qualified professional.
5. Get legal opinion on allowing commercial use
I suggest seeking legal opinion if the ZF’s Trademark Policy can be loosened up to include ‘friendly’ uses cases of commercial use. To be more open and permissive and include the ability to use the trademarks for projects like selling Zcash branded merch, selling NFTs, etc while also allowing the ECC and ZF to be able to police and protect the ZF’s Trademark Policy.