Contrary to popular belief, Curve has valid and enforceable IP rights in its software code. Pursuant to the LICENSE, Curve can and should protect its position in the marketplace with enforcement of those IP rights. Profits from such enforcement should benefit veCRV.
Curve has proven incredibly popular, with over $10B deposited, hundreds of millions in daily volume, and around $1M/week in earnings to veCRV holders. This places it among the top of all exchanges in crypto today, even rivaling publicly-traded CEX’s (see, e.g. https://twitter.com/lawmaster/status/1404525294426406917?s=20). Those CEX’s protect their IP on behalf of their shareholders and there is no reason why Curve, just by virtue of its DAO organization, should not protect itself for the benefit of veCRV holders too.
The value of Curve’s IP is not just in keeping out competition, but also in protecting Curve’s ability to recruit talent and bug hunters. Curve pays bug bounties, has and recruits employees, and spends significant sums (which if paid in CRV dilute the veCRV holders) on new products such as tricrypto. Since CRV is the currency of this, if something damages the value of CRV, it damages this work. Simply stated: if others can violate Curve’s IP, it decreases the value of CRV/veCRV. veCRV holders are particularly at risk in this case as they cannot promptly sell if Curve does not enforce its rights and loses its market position before their lock expires.
Enforcing Curve’s IP is not a purely theoretical notion. For example, Saddle Finance has been accused of wholesale copying of Curve code. Amusingly, Saddle itself claims IP rights in “its” code.. Saddle’s three main faces are all located in the USA, as are their three advisors. Saddle is also backed by at least nine well capitalized venture capitalists. Discovery in US or other courts of competent jurisdiction could not only determine liability for Saddle itself, but potential contributory liability if the VC’s or advisors funded wilfull infringement.
I propose Curve engage competent counsel both in the USA and (to the extent Saddle or other infringers or their VC’s have identifiable assets abroad) other relevant jurisdictions. In the USA there is a very active market for contingent-fee plaintiff side IP counsel, so Curve could begin asserting its rights potentially without any cost to veCRV. This should not just be for Saddle but for any infringer.
Curve has created something great. IP infringement is not only wrong, it’s value destructive both for the infringer (who wastes time copying instead of creating) and the infringed (who loses value of creation). VC’s investing in projects that infringe are scum and Curve should gleefully return their ill-gotten gains to veCRV holders.
This will also set an important precedent in DAO’s and DeFi that decentralization does not mean that VC’s get to steal from communities.
Curve should review any proposals from law firms, make them public, and put them up to a DAO vote. Any proposed settlement should also be subject to DAO vote.
This should not just be aimed at Saddle. Curve should have an ongoing anti-infringement campaign.
Protect veCRV value by protecting Curve’s IP. Potentially return ill-gotten gains to veCRV holders. This also encourages potential copycats to make a fair arrangement with Curve (i.e. Ellipsis) that benefits veCRV holders rather than just copying.
Infringers won’t like this. Some members of the community may not like the look and PR of Curve asserting its IP rights.
- Assert Curve’s IP rights against infringers
- Do not assert Curve’s IP rights against infringers