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Craig Wright is Not Satoshi Nakamoto: What Now for Disgraced BSV Founder?

Last Updated March 15, 2024 12:02 PM
James Morales
Last Updated March 15, 2024 12:02 PM
By James Morales
Verified by Peter Henn

Key Takeaways

  • Justice James Mellor has concluded that Craig Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto.
  • The verdict serves a major blow to Wright’s various UK-based copyright claims.
  • The Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) says it will refer the case to prosecutors for consideration of perjury charges.

It’s official. Craig Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto. That’s the conclusion of Justice James Mellor after hearing arguments from both sides throughout a month-long court hearing that pitted Wright against the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA).

The verdict is a crushing blow for the Bitcoin SV founder. For the best part of the last decade, Dr Wright’s claim the Bitcoin white paper’s authorship has formed the centerpiece of various legal disputes. But now, that strategy appears to have run its course.

Consequences for Kraken, Coinbase

Last year, Justice Mellor placed two lawsuits filed by Dr. Wright against Kraken and Coinbase on hold, pending the resolution of the COPA case.

Given that all three cases rested upon whether or not Wright invented Bitcoin as he claimed he did, the judge concluded  that “the identity issue should be tried once and once only and that should take place in the COPA action”.

According to Mellor’s determination, COPA vs Wright set out to establish a legally applicable verdict on four matters: 

  1. Whether Dr Wright is the author of the Bitcoin white paper. 
  2. Whether he is the author of the original Bitcoin source code.
  3. Whether he wrote communications attributed to Satoshi Nakamoto.
  4. Whether he mined early blocks in the Bitcoin blockchain.

In a statement to the court on Thursday, March 14, Justice Mellor issued a conclusive verdict:

“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.”

A formal written judgment should happen in the coming days. But it is safe to say that Wright’s hopes of a successful copyright claim against COPA members Kraken and Coinbase just evaporated.

The End of Craig Wright’s Satoshi Claim?

Of course, nothing can stop Craig Wright from continuing to assert that he invented Bitcoin. However, evidence to the contrary and a decisive judgment in the COPA case undermined his ability to do so in court.

Wright is also embroiled in a UK lawsuit against a group of Bitcoin Core developers and other major crypto firms. 

However, the latest verdict effectively decided the results of that case. Mr Justice Mellor, who is overseeing all legal proceedings involving Wright’s Bitcoin claim, will likely look to wrap up the remaining litigation promptly.

Potential Criminal Charges

Given the ultimate conclusion of the hearing, testimony that Dr. Wright delivered under oath during cross-examination could land him in trouble for lying to the court.

In closing remarks delivered this week, COPA’s lawyers said they would refer the case to prosecutors:

“COPA will ask after judgment that the papers be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration of prosecution for the offenses of perjury and perverting the course of justice.”

For the purposes of UK business law, the issue of Wright’s identity as Satoshi has been conclusively resolved. But criminal perjury charges could further complicate things. The Australian computer scientist also has a record for resurrecting his claim in multiple jurisdictions. It is, therefore, always possible he could always bring it up again elsewhere.

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