What3Words – The Algorithm - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27015046 - May 2021 (148 comments)
It's also not the first todo this, there is prior art.
For example this person was asking about what they would need to do to invalidate it because they built basically the same thing, but using 5 words before this company even had patents.
Also on the OpenStreet Wiki, the EU seems to have doubts on the patents Validity.
It's designed this way to encourage Americans to patent everything and anything, in order to dominate the intellectual property market.
The patent office doesn't do much background checking. Enforcement happens in the court system. And, some courts such as those in Texas have handed cases to patent trolls.
Patents, by design, reward innovators and contribute to the public good by exchanging information for protection. When you see a big company owning a lot of patents, that's the system at work. IP rights allow the company to defend their interests and pay larger salaries. Without IP rights, individual creators really have little chance to move up because wealthy individuals or businesses will just copy and mass-produce the concept. In order to remain involved you would have to play by their rules, like what happened to Jack Ma. Everyone answers to the government there because there's no delegation of power to courts to sort out IP rights.
Design and practice are two different things. Patents, in practice, are hopelessly broken when you can buy a fairly general patent from someone else, sit on it without ever actually using it, and then sue someone else who had no way of knowing the patent even existed. And that's not just in software.
Outside of software patents which I don't think should exist, I don't see a problem with buying and sitting on a patent for something truly innovative. The original creator was rewarded, the knowledge becomes public, and the buyer can sit on it as they like for ~15 years. If it's a profitable concept they are wasting money by not developing it.
The problem comes when courts uphold illegitimate patents. Fortunately there are companies who will stand up to this, such as Newegg and Cloudflare.
How so? Any competition is unable to proceed because of the patent, and all you need to do is put some money towards renewing it every X years. Now, if there was competition, of course you would lose out from developing it. But there can be no competition because of the patent, so at the time you hold it nobody can develop the patent.
You're Codake, a company that sells chemical photography materials.
Some person invents digital photography, you find out and buy the patent from them for 500K.
Digital photography would hurt your profits so you just sit on it for the 15 years, maybe start designing some products around it in the last 3 years of the patent to be ready for when it expires.
You made more money and society lost out for 15 years, all because the inventor probably wasn't used to seeing large checks and didn't shop around when the largest photography company offered them more money than they ever saw in their life.
Even the inventor got screwed, by selling the patent they got a nice house even though it was probably worth hundreds of millions.
I don't have a solution, just a vague feeling that in 2021 15 years seems like a very long time (for software, at least.)
Patents are politics. Politics is always a murky morass of compromises, and it's hard to say what is by design. (And, no, you can't trust the name of an act or even its formulation to tease out the real and differing intentions of the lawmakers who proposed or voted for it.)
> IP rights allow the company to defend their interests and pay larger salaries.
I can believe the first part. But I don't see how IP rights translate into higher salaries?
(Yes, in the trivial sense of _allowing_ them, perhaps. But not in the implied sense of making it more likely.)
When a company can defend its IP, it earns more profit and can invest in itself more. One way to invest in itself is to pay higher salaries to attract talent.
But eg just giving companies cash would also trivially increase their ability to pay higher salaries. But obviously, that's not really something anyone advocates for.
Right because cash comes from government which comes from taxes which come from companies' profit. Cash has value because governments put some limits on how much there is. Of course, they do end up printing some and dilute the value. They don't just hand it out willy nilly.
And even if there was a windfall, eg imagine something silly like a gold meteorite just falling down on the treasury building: there are always opportunity costs to consider.
But monopoly profits aren't too different: they don't just fall from the sky either. An enforced monopoly like those granted from a patent works by restricting what other people can do.
I guess one _can_ make some kind of argument about how adding government enforced monopolies, ie patents, increases that kind of competition. But it would have to be a somewhat sophisticated one.
Most patents are written in such a way to be maximally defendable/enforceable in court, and minimally useful for reproduction. Often you need to pair them with lots of trade secrets to get anything to work.
The other common argument in favour of patents is that they reward innovation. And that might or might not be an argument that actually works. Patents certainly also hinder innovation, so it's an empirical question which effect dominates, and whether any net beneficial effect is big enough to overcome our basic economic presumption against encouraging monopolies.
Wouldn't everyone be copying all the best ideas from everyone else? Wouldn't that be a good thing? Both in general and for innovation?
(And even if only the richest companies did this, they would still have to compete against each other's copy-cat implementations of those ideas.)
We don't necessarily have to re-hash this discussion, other people already had it, eg at https://sciencebusiness.net/news/79887/The-Great-IP-Debate%3...
In any case, whether patents help or hinder innovation is an empirical question that deserves study! Instead of just assuming that they _must_ encourage innovation, because they say so.
You can also get a start on the literature by following the sources of this Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_and_patents#Innovati...
No because this incentivizes copying over innovation. There is little reason to invest in R&D when anyone can copy your idea. Consider the COVID vaccines. Each cost billions in R&D. If they could be copied then a company that specializes in production could invest all its money into that and spend nothing on R&D. Eventually no one will be willing to invest in innovation until someone comes up with the idea of protecting IP again.
You can argue that solving one problem creates a set of new ones and I won't disagree. Those are for the next generation to address.
It also hinders ingenuity, especially prominently displayed with software patents.
> [...] we give credit to creators and encourage creativity.
You can do that just fine without patents, too.
Eg socially by recognising their genius. But also more materially via trade secrets.
And as you say, people don't like banging their head against the wall over and over again, and that's true whether there's a patent system or not.
That's ripe for corruption. Social recognition would largely be in the hands of the wealthiest, i.e. the government in that scenario. You want individuals to be able to generate their own wealth so they can defend themselves. Patents, capitalism, etc are a means of delegating power to the people. Keeping all that control in the hands of the government is costly and less efficient.
That's not correct. By law, for every patent application, the patent examiner is supposed to conduct a thorough search of the prior art; some patent examiners have long experience in their "art units." 
Also by law: Inventors must disclose, to the patent examiner, all information of which they are aware that is "material to patentability." 
Well-trained patent attorneys take the view that it's far better to tell the patent examiner about everything you can think of that might be significant. Doing so helps to strengthen any resulting patent against infringers' claims that the invention would have been obvious.
Think about how an infringement lawsuit will often go down: The accused infringer will generally try to claim that the patent is invalid because of one or more particular prior-art references. When that happens, one of the best possible responses, by the patent owner's trial counsel, is, in effect, Oh yeah? Well, ladies and gentlemen [of the jury], the patent examiner already considered those references, and s/he concluded that the invention was indeed patentable, so whom are you going to believe — the patent examiner, or the infringer who stole my client's invention?)
As a more-or-less random example, see a 2017 patent issued to IBM, where the cited prior art included 32 prior patents and 3 non-patent publications — all cited by the inventors. 
 Dixit et al., "Performing sequence analysis as a relational join," U.S. Patent No. 9,589,018, https://patents.google.com/patent/US9589018B2/en?oq=9%2c589%...
This is basically "pretty please". If something is uncomfortable it's not "material to patentability" according to corporate patent people. (Including me sending them "hi, look at this prior art")
If those "corporate patent people" are lawyers, they're betting their law licenses: Intentional withholding of material information can result in the patent's being held unenforceable for that reason alone , and quite possibly temporary- or permanent disbarment for any patent attorney found to have engaged in such misconduct. 
 See, e.g., https://casetext.com/case/deep-fix-llc-v-marine-well-contain..., in which a highly-regarded federal district judge in Houston held that a patent attorney had intentionally withheld material information from the patent examiner; the case is discussed at https://www.ipwatchdog.com/2020/02/26/inequitable-conduct-li... As another example in which patent attorneys were likewise held to have engaged in inequitable conduct, see https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=455051935074519...
 See generally the discussion in an amicus brief (search the document for "disbar), at https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/17/17-1616/52679/2018... (the Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari, as discussed at https://www.patentdocs.org/2018/10/supreme-court-denies-cert...)
And, in practice, most patent infringement lawsuits go down like this: "We own this patent and have a team of well-funded lawyers to defend it, we've assessed that you and your company are not financially capable of defending yourself and so we are willing to offer you a substantial licensing agreement as settlement. We suggest you take it."
 Sideways Swinging: https://patents.google.com/patent/US6368227B1/en
 Vacation Auto-responding: https://patents.google.com/patent/US9547842
 A rounded-bezel display: https://patents.google.com/patent/USD670286
 A tree branch: https://patents.google.com/patent/US6360693
 Hierarchical folders to organize files on a computer: https://patents.google.com/patent/US8473532
 A car windshield: https://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?PageNum=0&docid=D0786157&IDKey...
 Bilateral and multilateral decision making: https://patents.google.com/patent/US8069073B2/en
The EFF even has a monthly "stupid patent" post:
> Patents, by design, reward people churning out patent applications and extract rents by monetizing monopolies for technical concepts at expense of the public.
The set of patent applicants and actual innovators overlaps a little but not much.
You can try to defend many different kinds of monopolies using the jobs argument. A lot of things, like eg shoes, would be more expensive, and have higher paid positions for the employees, if their production was artificially constrained.
They don't just look for prior patents, they look for prior art (which includes any public research papers, presentations, products, etc.) as well. So if someone else did the thing you claim to have invented (even if they didn't patent it), you can't get a patent.
And even if someone didn't do the thing you're claiming, but they did something that makes your claimed invention an obvious thing to do, you also can't get a patent.
The obviousness standard is generally harder to overcome than the novelty standard.
But this doesn't fit my experience, having worked for well over a decade in Silicon Valley (first as a lawyer, and then as a founder). I could be wrong — this is just the sense I've gotten from talking with patent prosecutors at my old firm, and from talking with my outside counsel about our prosecution strategy.
Their idea was similar, minus the algorithm. You could assign names to places, and people would use their proprietary system to find them.
They filed for patents in various countries, US included.
Here's their European patent: , status withdrawn. The US equivalent is patent US20120246195A1. I can't find its history, nor a post on Patents Stackexchange, to detail the history.
Someone applied to have it invalidated, on the premise that there was existing prior art.
My reading of the Patents question, is that this person filed an opposition in the UK. Has anyone ever tried doing same in the US? Or has some legal time lapsed?
A patent breach would be creating alternative implementation with a different dictionary or a different mapping
And interfacing with the same system would require the same words.
I understand the argument that a curated list of words is copyrightable, but in this instance I don't think we're just talking about a list of words. We're talking about an algorithm that turns numbers into certain words.
I could see it going either way, but I'd like to think it would fail to be copyrightable in the court.
There are publicly available location methods like national addressing systems or coordinates, or one can create one's own and make it public. But honestly, while all my sympathies are with open source movement, and I'm generally critical to copyright, I don't understand why everyone seems to think you can treat things other people created as a commodity and require free access to it.
Could you imagine if someone couldn't create a second kind of typewriter because it used the same letters?
The words in this case are no more unique than letters of the alphabet.
Look at it this way: If I saw one of these 3 word addresses and needed to know where it was, should it be illegal to do the calculations by hand instead of paying this company to translate it for me?
Assuming "no" to the above, should it be illegal to write my own program to save myself the labor? Should it be illegal to use my program for others? Share the program with others?
At what step does it become wrong to convert information from one form to another?
Likewise, if a system required an address in this format, should it be illegal to do the calculation myself, etc etc?
I think none of that should be illegal.
What is illegal and should be illegal is copying their code directly without an agreement/license. Even taking the list of codes and their translations wholesale (copying them from the code or database) is in the grey area for me. But reverse engineering them should not.
But like patents or not, they are real and they are a factor to take into account when doing business.
In this case, what3words seems to have genuinely come up with a way to translate coordinates into pronounceable words. You might not agree their method is particularly interesting, sophisticated, valuable, etc. But a similar enough method did not really exist prior to them. And they patented that method. And they got the patent. What that means legally is that the claims in the patent are legally enforceable against others doing a me too service. Unless they challenge all of those claims of course. The issue with prior art is that it usually only affects some of the claims. So, you might feasibly manage to weaken the patent somewhat in court at great cost but probably not in it's entirety.
So, e.g. Apple or Google suddenly promoting a service that allows you to refer a map location on their using a bunch of words would be a problem as it would obviously infringe on one or more claims in the patent. Of course they have deep enough pockets that they could try to challenge the patent. But they might lose. It's more likely they'd attempt an acquisition and add the patent to their portfolio. That in a nut shell is why what3words might be considered a good investment by some: they are an obvious acquisition target with a customer base, some revenue, a brand name, etc. To me 80M raised in funding sounds excessive though. But it explains why they are eager to defend their IP: without that their valuation tanks.
This lawsuit interestingly is not about the patent but about copyright. I assume the list of words used by their patented algorithm is the issue here. That list of words is not part of the patent. That copyright seems defensible as well. It's a list they came up with, that they own the copyright of, that is essential to them and somebody else is publishing that list without their permission. Copyright exists to allow people to put a stop to that sort of thing. Hard to argue against that.
Okay, but let's see what they wanted: "The letter also demands that he disclose to the law firm the identity of the person or people with whom he had shared a copy of the software, agree that he would not make any further copies of the software and to delete any copies of the software he had in his possession."
Umm, F-THAT!! I will not send you personal contact info of anyone for anything without a warrant/suponea for any of my clients/customers/users/friends. Anyone that would be willing to do that should have that tattooed across their foreheads so anyone in the future will know.
In my experience, as someone that was detained for the first time at the age of 14 by the secret service for counterfeiting, has multiple subsequent arrests, and despite all that actually became a lawyer myself, while a lawyer later in life was abducted and kidnapped at gun point managed to escape by jumping out of a moving car and tracked down the guy 24 hours later and delivered him to the police (or police to him) - so I feel I have some life experience - it’s the person screaming the loudest about what they would do in the shoes of others that is usually the least likely to actually do it.
Unless you can say what you have done in like circumstances you don’t know.
So before you go around championing marking people with tattoos in order to readily identify them, at least consider where in history that very concept comes from. My suggestion if you feel so strongly, is help, maybe by donating money for a legal fund, or at minimum show a little compassion and moral support, but don’t tell someone else what you would do in their shoes and how you’d punish them if they don’t show the same moral convictions you pretend to have without being put to the test.
Unless you're (a) swimming in money, (b) have some kind of strong (and free?) legal/financial support behind you to battle such a thing, (c) are not in the US, or (d) are so poor that you have nothing to lose anyway, this sounds like a rather incredible claim. Most people facing potentially massive lawsuits would probably cave.
edit: I like our current legal system, but I know Europe has the (Roman/Napoleonic?) inquisitorial system, if any Europeans could contribute and note if that has different outcomes? Or just any wild ideas on how to tweak the system to give more equal footing that isn't based on money.
Even with a simplified laws and legal proceedings, obviously not everyone would be in a position to defend themselves. However, many of those people could probably find a legally astute relative or friend to help them. There will always be a need for public defenders or something similar, though, since not everyone has a good support network.
To be honest though, I think the only really long term solution is for radical reform to the economy in general is the abolishment of private property. Private property, including intellectual property in particular, is always going to give disproportionate power to the wealthy. We should reward people for actual labor (not necessarily the same amount for the same hours), not because they already have giant stacks of cash.
Parts of the UK and several EU countries have a similar system with a small claims court for copyright cases under a certain limit with a limited discovery, where attorneys are not needed in addition to the regular courts.
Could be done, not sure if it would be a better system...
About your question: you might like this paper https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?arti...
It doesn't offer any answers, and it's about criminal justice; but it's good food for thought about unintended consequences.
See also the excellent http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Legal%20Systems/LegalSystemsCo... as parodied in https://slatestarcodex.com/2020/03/30/legal-systems-very-dif... and reviewed in https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/11/13/book-review-legal-syst...
Unless maybe the ACLU or EFF take up their defense pro-bono.
Kim Dot Com on the other hand...
Hypothetically, he were in the EU, I understand it would be illegal to provide the personal information as requested (i.e. of anyone who had not explicitly consented to the transfer of their data to an explicitly named third party).
Maybe there's a way to give the GDPR more teeth by punishing businesses who operate in the EU "legally" while outside the EU are not treating people as well.
Once you do receive a subponea, you get to then see exactly how it is worded. Converting all of the data to hex or binary, and then printing it out at a 4pt font on greenbar paper with one character per line might not be explicitly stated as something not to do. If the request comes in as "delivered exactly as it is stored electronically" providing binary would seem apropos.
Do this only if you want to catch a contempt of court charge.
And if you need legal assistance to do something like interpret the wording sufficiently accurately to avoid running into further legal trouble, expensive for you as well.
For support to be sent to the wrong location in an emergency situation just because "fields" was misheard as "field" or vice versa is unconscionable.
The company simply denied that the analysis was correct.
And it isn't even like it's difficult to come up with. Here's my 5-minute implementation of something similar from a couple years ago: 
Which encodes to 10cm, and not just a few meters.
And this in various languages (all incompatible to each other, obviously).
Their table has about ~40000 entries. And all it basically does is concats the two fixed point numbers into one longer binary number and splits that into 3 different numbers. Then each number is used to lookup a word. It's also quite bad compared to other geo-hashes that have hierarchical structure that can get more accurate as you specify more information.
Snarkiness aside, I never understood the benfit of W3W ompared to existing things like coordinates and location sharing using Googlemaps, Whatsapp and so on.
Relaying coordinates over static-filled radios, with background noise like the sea, etc. Basically, emergency situations where if you can't hear a number clearly it can be significant.
Unfortunately, W3W encodes using words that can create problems in those circumstances too. (Like plurals misdirecting rescuers. ).
But in order to use that, don't you need:
- GPS in order to know your location
- some type of communication (cell,...) to tell someone
W3W being an app implies cell phones, sending a set of ccordinates, even by SMS, is much faster in these cases, isn't it? Unless you are in the total wilderness, only radio. Which either limits range (handhelds) or means you have a range (CBS,...) which requires a license and proper training in most places. And communicating your position should be basic stuff during training I assume.
(Internet Archive's Wayback Machine has it manually excluded from their index, but this site is still fine.)
They've raised $39* million dollars in funding and they're "helping improve businesses around the world, and paving the way for social and economic progress in developing nations" . Because developing nations really want to use a 3rd party app with a 'proprietary naming convention' to help them map and develop their land.
(Article from 2016 describing how all post addresses in Mongolia were switched to what3words addresses)
Amazingly this is a big problem that is worth solving. Many countries in Africa don’t have a developed address system with named roads and for the purpose of mail will either use a pin-drop (which can go wrong when described over the phone) or will just write a description (third house down the alley next to the pharmacy) which is very hard to sort and deliver.
An example of a country with this issue is Kenya.
As other people noted it is hard to compete with universality of lat/Lon pair.
I agree that supporting a finite set of languages isn't accessible enough, though.
In order to get sufficient accuracy, you need to state lat/long to 6 decimal points, meaning the full number is c16 numbers long. It’s certainly not particularly user friendly.
I’m also not entirely sure what is meant by universality - it’s certainly not commonly used (who knows their own lat/long off by heart?) or commonly used for the location of houses or addresses in most of the world (try sending mail by writing a lat/long on it and popping it through the mail). In terms of things that compete with the ‘universality’ of lat/long - the main thing is address/postcode (although it depends on the use case). You can write my address on a postcard and put it in any post box and it will get to my house - that’s the real universal standard.
Lat/Long's are actually pretty horrible to work with from a post/logistics perspective. There is a reason why nowhere in the world actually writes the lat/long on their mail!
Who's funding them?
A boycott may be in order.
Although W3W is a scumbag company, telling my car to set destination to some.three.words would be neat. And since it's a Mercedes it should drive me there.
Once you factor in the ambiguity of what words are being spoken, words you don't know how to pronounce, and language barriers, I can't imagine a use for W3W. To use an example from the article, "circle.goal.leaders" is six syllables and could easily be interpreted as "circle.go.leaders". Of course, if you count the dots or pauses, lat/lon wins pretty much every time. And even a lot of Americans can count to 10 in multiple languages.
(I do agree that the What3Words approach is flawed, both technically and commercially.)
I can't imagine a channel of communication that's clear enough for W3W, but not clear enough for some numbers.
Good point, mea cupla. Though I think my point that confusion over pronunciation still trumps how many numbers you have to say.
Once they've achieved this (either informally or by getting enshrined in the legal system) they can start squeezing local businesses and the government for access to their service. It's pure rent seeking.
As part of this strategy, it's in their interest to create an unnecessarily unintuitive service so you can't go anywhere without using their app. The three words provide absolutely zero geographic information about the location.
They're about as close to a truly evil company as I can think of. Luckily they seem to have had minimal success so far, as the revenue numbers are awful.
Addresses typically correspond to a single building or subdivided unit. Your home/apartment/factory could overlap several GPS grid squares, and then people have to decide which one is canonical or record all of them.
In most places, addresses are roughly sequential. This gives you the ability to reason relatively: If I just walked past stores numbered 2503 and 2505, and I'm looking for 2751, how far away am I and am I going in the right direction? Easy to estimate. If I'm looking for manatee.fracas.bologna and I'm at porkpie.hamster.obnoxious, I can't make a conclusion.
Sequential addresses also make sorting and routing easier. Group the items by street name, then sort by number. No technology required, and easy to monitor and fix if it gets upset. Shuffle a few envelopes in a W3W mailbag, and it's going to be a lot harder to get it back in order.
They could also probably sell novelty "phone numbers", like every professional sports team buys the equivalent of "boston red sox" for the location of their stadium.
No clue what their actual business model is, I'm just spitballing.
The What3Words word list is 40,000 words long. It is important that words in this list cannot be confused, otherwise they may be communicated incorrectly. For example band/banned, bare/bear, beat/beet are easily confused.
A quick inspection of their word list finds the following words that sound very, very similar to one another:
Ironic ionic ;-)
> The overwhelming proportion of similar-sounding 3 word combinations will be so far apart that an error is obvious,
However, it continues like this:
> but there will still be cases where potentially confusable word combinations are nearby. Our Autosuggest feature actively intercepts possible errors or confusions and highlights other possibilities to the user, helping to identify what might need to be checked.
So they rely on auto-suggest and people trying all suggested alternatives.
If I were arguing for W3W, I would point out that in some dialects of British English (where W3W is based), "what three words" and "what free words" would be pronounced identically. This means that in verbal communication, it would be very difficult to tell the two apart. That would make it harder to win a parody case, since in spoken language people wouldn't even be able to tell that you were saying something different.
Despite a massive social media campaign that would have certainly caught the eye of Starbucks, they received no legal threats.
Oh, those are the 3 words, apparently.
It's been a known thing about this company for a while.
There are better and open geo-hashes out there. Just look the wikipedia article on geo hashes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geohash
Happily, you can read the article (without ads) via https://www.printfriendly.com
All I get is (compressed, transferred network bytes): 68 kB of HTML, in two files; 63 kB of CSS, in one file; two webp images totaling 628 kB; and two small favicons (one of which downloads twice due to a misconfiguration, which wasted an extra 3.33 kB but whatever). It's exactly what I want from an internet news article: it's perfect! It loads instantly, and has a flawlessly readable, distraction-free formatting. It's like the apotheosis of newsprint, elevated to the shimmering silicon screen.
Thank you so very much, @gorhill (uMatrix / uBlock Origin). You've saved the internet in my eyes.
This is based on Python code I found on a previous post about What3Words: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21196402
Here is crazy idea: take the standard long/lat system and trim it down to numbers that can point to any 20m2 square in the world. Now translate each number to two words.
Now you have a much simpler 4-word system that can be translated back to the standard system. Furthermore, since you use 4 identifiers instead of 3 you may be able to exclude many similar sounding words.
Now, is this covered by their patent?
They have an active US patent. Why didn't they try gunning him down with this instead of the IP letter?
If he called it anything else they would never have noticed or cared.
They risk drawing attention to their non-existent competition by raising this legal action if they don't have a "sure" chance of winning.
Aside: Is there a way to crowd-source [non-monetary] efforts like this? I don't want to get paid for it, I just want to put it out there for free and get some help.
1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Location_Code
It's a nice system indeed, and fully open. It would be nice if it was implemented in most apps, not just Google Maps.
It doesn't seem great for a locale -- especially a developing nation -- to use a geo addressing scheme that is outright owned by some company. Especially not a scheme that appears (from this post) to be excessively proprietary.
I wonder whether it would make sense for some subset of OpenStreetMap, Google (Maps), GIS-using government orgs, UN, development NGOs, etc., to agree on a free open standard for number-to-word lists for geographic locations.
And maybe provide free-as-in-beer (preferably FLOSS) technology implementations in support of those open standards.
Some of those organizations might also have relevant "shield" patents that might come in handy.
This could be a good thing.
Regarding general addresses, Ireland has no ZIP codes (at least until 2017, last time I had to worry about that). Their postal service works just fine.
If you've been involved with the NFT community you will know that NFTs are not about money. They are about love.