Update on trademark strategy

I apologize for the confusion and alarm this caused. There’s been some miscommunication between the foundation and us, for which I accept responsibility.

We prefer decentralized management of the trademark, and that’s why we proposed the 2-of-2 multisig structure and have often spoken in support of it.

The foundation recently suggested that it could use the resulting veto power to impose conditions on what decisions the community would be allowed to make. This gave me misgivings about increasing the number of organizations that have the power to veto the community’s decisions by using the trademark.

I talked about this with the foundation, publicly posted this statement, and privately suggested to them that we resolve this by amending the proposed 2-of-2 agreement with the additional understanding that neither organization would unilaterally use their veto power to override the community’s decision (as represented by the Community Advisory Panel).

I also asked that we agree that within a reasonable time frame we extend it to a 2-of-3 agreement, with a third party chosen by the Community Advisory Panel. It’s likely these ideas were not well communicated.

We’ll continue conversations with the Foundation and report back on further developments. Like we’ve previously stated, as long as ECC remains the sole owner of the trademark, we’re committed to using it solely to support the community’s decision.


Up until today I have thought that the “2-of-2” means that agreement is required from both organizations on any enforcement of or changes to the trademark. Such as with 2-of-2 multisig wallets, where 2-of-2 signatures are required to make any transactions. And this is after reading about the proposed policy several times over the past couple of years and seeing people from the ECC and Zfnd talk about the policy at various conferences.

Instead, what I’m understanding now after reading recent posts is that the proposed agreement is more like a 1-of-2, where either organization can unilaterally enforce the trademark:

To me, the agreement doesn’t make sense as a “2-of-2” unless agreement by both “signers” is required to make any enforcement of or changes to the trademark (i.e. “transactions” using the “multisig wallet”). So agreement by both signers would be required to:

  • Enforce use of the trademark against a team claiming to develop Zcash software (metaphorically, this would be a “transaction from multisig wallet”)
  • Change control of the trademark from a 2-of-2 agreement to 3-of-5, or some other arrangement (metaphorically, an “update to the signing policy of the multisig wallet”)

If we’re going to use the metaphor of a multisig, and that’s the mental model that’s been sold to the community for this agreement, I think the actual agreement should behave like a 2-of-2 multisig wallet and require agreement from both signers for any use of the wallet. Otherwise the result is no action.

In light of the ongoing negotiations between ECC and Zfnd, I hope this perspective is taken into consideration.


I don’t have the ability to edit my post, so I’d like to add this amendment:

My point in making the post is not just to highlight my own misunderstanding of the agreement, but to state how I thought the agreement was intended to work in practice, and that my personal preference would be for the agreement to work how I thought it worked, and not how I recently learned it is intended to work. So: I think the agreement should actually work as a 2-of-2 multisig as I described, and not as a 1-of-2 multisig as it has been recently described elsewhere.

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Hi @john-light , new accounts only have the ability to edit thier posts twice. I have bumped your trust level so you can edit more.

Welcome to the forums :slightly_smiling_face:


I think 2-of-2 is what we have but its not been applied to a sensitive issue before - hence the friction & debate as things hit those limits. They’re working on it & I’m sure it’ll get better.

Like your ‘metaphor of multisig’, that’s how I see things working.

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This discussion has now made the crypto news cycle:

Also: https://cointelegraph.com/news/zcash-foundation-says-zec-developer-broke-trademark-promise


Hey John Light! Welcome to the forum. So, I’m still confused, too. To my mind, the choices in trademark law with two parties are either 1-out-of-2 approve (i.e. either party can make a thing and stick the “Zcash” name on it without the other party’s approval) or 1-out-of-2 veto (i.e. either party can prevent anyone else from calling a certain thing “Zcash”). Which did you mean? Thanks!

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So in the “1 of 2 approve” situation a fork can occur and 1 side I.E. ECC can decide to support it as “Zcash” while the other side (ZFND) does not, and the non-supportive side gets to continue using Zcash trademark for original chain or a different fork?

Honestly, I don’t even understand your question. I think the fact that you, me, and John are all this confused suggests that we need different terminology to clarify what we mean.

Or maybe start from this simple starting point: what do you think the rule should be about who can use the name “Zcash” to refer to what!? :slight_smile:

Why don’t we mutually agree to publicly share an updated term sheet which led to the legal negotiations after we meet privately @zooko? I understand the confusion and suspect it could have been allayed if these agreements were shared earlier.


If the Foundation and ECC cant agree on what Zcash is wouldn’t the chain with more hashrate and users ultimately be Zcash?

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This was also my interpretation (when the subject was mentioned at Zcon1), as I recall, and it matches this statement (from this thread) pretty clearly:

Attempting to interpret @zooko’s original post in this thread:

I read this as requesting the addition of a clause that would prevent either organisation from failing to vote for trademark enforcement against a software version which was not decided upon by the Community Advisory Panel - @zooko is that accurate?

… but I am not totally sure what veto scenario this refers to - the same one, where the trademark is not enforced against a software version which was not decided upon by the Community Advisory Panel? That scenario doesn’t involve using the trademark, however, which is confusing, so instead this could refer to a case when one of the two entities enforces the trademark against a software version which was decided upon by the Community Advisory Panel - but in a 2-approvals-required multisignature agreement no individual entity could unilaterally use the trademark, so that doesn’t make sense either.

This sounds like it would be very helpful.


Could be very obliquely relevant…fwiw…

Zooko and Josh released a statement:


Thanks Zooko! I think my own misunderstanding came from applying the 2-of-2 multisig metaphor a bit too literally, and not taking into account the specifics of trademark law.

Based on your above explanation of the options, it seems like the “1-of-2 veto” is the closest to how I expected it to work. It would also be the option most likely to prevent confusion in the marketplace about what the “real Zcash” is, since if there was a chain split and the ECC and Zfnd disagreed on which chain is Zcash, then neither chain can call itself Zcash. Whereas in a “1-of-2 approve” scenario, both ECC and Zfnd could call their preferred chain Zcash, which would be quite confusing and seem to violate the reason for the trademark in the first place.


we are all on the same team right? we all want a healthy successful project that endures over a long time. the frustration and confusion are more distracting than they should be. so meet and duke it out or buy each other a drink or whatever method of disagreement resolution works for all confused parties involved. end the subtle bickering and work on adoption. that’s truly what the community wants. we have one of the best assemblies of scientific and mathematical talent in the crypto space. argue over the best ways to market this and get it into the hands of millions. let this technology grow and thrive.
I suggest a quick agreed resolution then drop the damn thing.
Please refocus your combined efforts on adoption and transaction growth.


That’s what Josh and Zooko are doing, resumed negotiations :slight_smile: They’ve been discussing privately. No further details to share at this time.


how long does this take? should’ve been completed in a day-or-two. come-on!

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Why the rush ? Scrutinizing everything from all points of view takes time, I’d rather they worked on it until both ECC & ZFnd were happy. Its been a hot issue so worth the effort.

getting to a point where it seems there’s a bit of foot dragging going on. markets hate indecisiveness. first we have the devfund thing causing issues that should’ve been an issue in 2020, not 2019 (market crashes), but now that part’s being pushed back because the trademark issue (markets stagnate). not just exchange rates being effected - volume’s taken a huge hit too.

here’s why this is getting annoying - we should’ve broached the devfund subject in 2020 because the halving pump might’ve softened negative market reaction. now that it’s become a huge deal that needed to be dealt with in 2019 - it’s completely stopped, and nobody seems to have an idea when we’ll continue figuring out the devfund issue. are they going to be arguing over trademark issues for a couple more days, weeks, months? nobody knows!