ENS to Settle “eth.link” Domain Dispute for $300,000

The long-standing legal battle over the ownership of the domain name “eth.link” has finally reached a resolution. The Ethereum Name Service (ENS), a non-profit organization responsible for managing the Ethereum Name System, has settled the lawsuit with Manifold Finance, the current owner of the domain. This decision comes after a Sunday vote by the ENS DAO approved the $300,000 settlement offer.

How it all Began

The dispute started when the “eth.link” domain was unexpectedly sold and auctioned in 2022, leading to ENS filing a lawsuit against Dynadot, GoDaddy, and Manifold Finance.

Apparently, the domain was under the control of Virgil Griffith, an earlier contributor to the project. Griffith was unable to renew the domain after it expired in July 2022 as he was three months into a five-year jail sentence for allegedly trying to help North Korea evade sanctions.

Upon the expiration of the domain, GoDaddy, where eth.link was registered, allowed Manifold to purchase it at auction on Dynadot in September 2022.

ENS, in its lawsuit, argued that the domain transfer happened due to unauthorized access and a security breach, and ENS sought to regain control of the critical domain. They filed a suit against the trio in the same month and secured a court order stopping the domain’s transfer.

The Options on the Table

The DAO vote presented four distinct options for ENS Labs:

  1. Accept the Settlement Offer: Manifold Finance, the current owner of “eth.link,” had offered a $300,000 settlement, including confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses.
  2. Negotiate a Compromise: The DAO can choose to negotiate a different settlement amount or terms with Manifold Finance.
  3. Continue Litigation: ENS Labs can proceed with the lawsuit against Dynadot, GoDaddy, and Manifold Finance, seeking to regain control of the “eth.link” domain.
  4. Reimbursing ENS Labs: This option would reimburse ENS Labs for the legal expenses involved in pursuing this case.

Community Decides on Settlement

The ENS DAO, comprised of ENS token holders, played a pivotal role in resolving the dispute. After careful consideration and discussion, the DAO voted in favor of the $300,000 settlement offer presented by Manifold Finance. Approximately 88% of the voting power rallied behind this option. The second most-voted option was reimbursing ENS Labs for the legal expenses incurred, with approximately 84%.

In general, the decision signifies the community’s preference for avoiding the potential costs and uncertainties associated with a prolonged legal battle.

Looking Ahead

While the settlement brings an end to the legal dispute, it raises questions about the future of crucial infrastructure elements within the ENS ecosystem. The incident underlines the importance of robust security measures and transparent domain management practices.

ENS and the ENS DAO are expected to release further details regarding the settlement and the implications for the “eth.link” domain. The community will likely continue discussions on how to best safeguard critical infrastructure and mitigate the risk of similar incidents in the future.