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  • L Higgins and S Pettigrove

Satoshi Naka-who? UK High Court to determine who is Wright

Updated: Feb 10

The trial to determine whether Australian computer scientist Craig Wright is the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, commences in the UK High Court this week.

Wright faces a claim by the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), a crypto and tech consortium. COPA contends that Wright's history of filing intellectual property lawsuits - which are predicated on his claim of being the inventor of the bitcoin cryptocurrency and Bitcoin network - has had the effect of "scaring" off developers from building and integrating projects onto the network. Accordingly, COPA is asking the court for a declaration that Wright is NOT Satoshi Nakamoto.

Any verdict will likely impact the many cases Wright is currently disputing against companies and developers that are, in his opinion, unlawfully using and adapting "his" software. The COPA claim is unique in the sense that its focus is on the identity issue, that is, who is Satoshi Nakatmoto, a matter other decisions did not address.

Wright first claimed to be Nakamoto sometime in late 2015, with a Wired article stating that Wright "either invented bitcoin or is a brilliant hoaxer who very badly wants us to believe he did". This article has since been updated to reflect the opinion of much of the cryptocurrency community and the media; that Wright's claims are false. Members of the community have taken to social media to share their views (in various humorous ways):

The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto has been a hotly debated and researched topic since the inception of the Bitcoin network in January of 2009, by enthusiasts and critics alike. Despite numerous claims and self-proclamations throughout the years (in addition to Wright's claims), no individual has conclusively proven to be the elusive genius. However, as time continues to pass, many believe that we will never unmask the enigmatic figure of Satoshi Nakamoto definitively.

Perhaps as a last-ditch effort to avoid legal costs, Wright extended a settlement offer to COPA in the form of an open letter in late January of this year. COPA was quick to offer a blistering retort via X that sent a clear message:

Hard pass on that "settlement". Just like Craig Wright forges documents and doesn't quite tell the truth, his description of the settlement offer isn't quite accurate either - it comes with loopholes that would allow him to sue people all over again.

The settlement offer would also effectively require COPA to admit that Wright was Nakamoto. For now, the trial will unfold following COPA's rejection of the settlement offer, with the cryptocurrency world watching with baited breath.

Satoshi Nakamoto has long represented the principles of innoivation, decentralisation, and the democratisation of finance. Yet, the prospect of Craig Wright assuming this revered mantle is often met with collective skepticism and disdain, partly due to the nature of Wright's activities over the past decade or so in seeking to claim ownership rights in the network. For many faithful disciples of bitcoin and decentralised technology, the idea of Wright donning the Satoshi crown is unappealing. While the identity of Satoshi may never be proven with certainty, one thing is evident: Wright is not the answer the community has been searching for.

By L Higgins and S Pettigrove

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