Alibaba says its "unified domain name scheme" would simplify and improve communication between blockchains.
In a patent granted by the U.S. Patent Office (patent no. 10,666,445) last Tuesday, the e-commerce giant said its domain name system could enable cross-chain communications that are more simple and seamless than on existing interoperability solutions, specifically naming blockchain interoperability project Cosmos.
Alibaba says that assigning universally recognizable domain names to blockchains, or parts of a blockchain, could enable better identification and interaction with others in a broader network, in much the same way that entities recognize and communicate with one another using domain names, such as ".com" or ".org."
The problem with existing systems, suggests the patent, is they can become clunky and cumbersome. Cosmos, for example, requires that each blockchain retains separate identifications for each and every link it holds with another blockchain. These can't be reused and that means the ID system only has "a local scope."
But Alibaba says, in its simpler system, blockchains only need one domain name – a unified blockchain domain name (UBCDN) – recognizable and valid in any and all communication it has with other chains. It also means it can communicate with other systems without having to hold onto an ever-expanding address book of specific identifications.
"[U]nlike existing cross-chain implementations such as COSMOS ... the UBCDN can be used and is recognizable globally by all blockchain instances in the unified blockchain network, despite how many relay chains [network links] are included in the unified blockchain network," reads the patent.
Alibaba has filed a raft of blockchain-related patents on a wide-ranging number of use cases. In December 2019, it won a patent that would make consortium networks – private systems operated and controlled by a handful of select entities – faster and safer to use.
A patent doesn't necessarily mean a company will move ahead with implementation. As such it isn't clear if Alibaba has any active plans to launch its domain name system at any point.
A possible real-world home for Alibaba's newly patented domain name scheme could be the blockchain platform for its subsidiary Ant Financial, which was unveiled back in November.
In the patent filing, the company says the system was designed with a consortium network in mind. It also includes a feature enabling human-readable names which, the company suggests, could make it easier for entities to more readily identify themselves.
CoinDesk reached out to Alibaba for comment but hadn't received a response by press time.