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  • K Kim and S Pettigrove

When Wright is Wrong: UK Court Rules Australian is not Satoshi Nakamoto

The blockbuster trial between Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) and the computer scientist Dr Craig Wright has concluded, with the English High Court issuing a damning ruling that Dr Wright is not the inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. The ruling represents a sweeping victory for COPA. Rather than reserving judgment, which is typical in cases of this nature, Justice Mellor delivered his ruling at the conclusion of the trial stating:

I've reached the conclusion that the evidence is overwhelming
First, that Dr. Wright is not the author of the Bitcoin white paper.
Second, Dr. Wright is not the person who adopted or operated under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto in the period 2008 to 2011. 
Third, Dr. Wright is not the person who created the Bitcoin System.
And, fourth, he is not the author of the initial versions of the Bitcoin software. 

COPA sued Wright in 2021 to thwart him from taking legal actions against Bitcoin developers and other members of the crypto community, and making claims to intellectual property rights over Bitcoin's open-source technology.

A final written judgment detailing the judge's reasoning and final relief is anticipated in the first half of this year. The industry is watching closely as the findings of this case are likely to impact Wright’s other cases, one of which concerns a claim to database rights in the bitcoin blockchain and file format. Those proceedings were stayed pending the outcome of this case. 

A spokesperson for COPA trumpeted the ruling stating that its victory was:

for developers, for the entire open-source community, and for the truth

and broadly supports the association’s philosophy to

encourage the adoption and advancement of cryptocurrency technologies and to remove patents as a barrier to growth and innovation.

While Wright declined to comment immediately on his defeat, it remains to be seen whether he will appeal. In a curious twist, his lawyers also sought to oppose an injunction application which would prevent Wright from continuing to declare himself the inventor of Bitcoin (if anyone is still listening) on freedom of speech grounds.

The Wright trial has cast further light on the origins of Bitcoin following the discovery of early emails involving Satoshi Nakamoto and testimony from a number of early participants in the ecosystem. While it has offered the opportunity for Bitcoin enthusiasts and other to speculate on an improbable mystery, it has also demonstrated the future of Bitcoin and open source technology is now high stakes and the worthy subject of a high profile London legal spectacle.

Written by Kelly Kim, Steven Pettigrove and Michael Bacina


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