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Satoshi Court Case: Craig Wright Offers Settlement Deal

Last Updated January 25, 2024 1:08 PM
James Morales
Last Updated January 25, 2024 1:08 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Dr. Craig Wright has made various copyright claims to Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper, as well as the Bitcoin file format and parts of its database.
  • Coinbase, Kraken, and other members of the Crypto Open Patent Alliance have rallied together to counter Wright’s claims.
  • Now, the self-proclaimed Nakamoto has proposed a deal to settle the various lawsuits.

Claiming to be the inventor of Bitcoin, Dr. Craig Wright has spent the last 5 years trying to copyright Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper, as well as the Bitcoin file format and parts of its database.

After the US Copyright Office rejected Wright’s intellectual property claims, he turned his attention to the UK, where the issue is now playing out in parallel court cases. Hoping to resolve the matter before it goes to trial, on Wednesday, January 24, Wright offered his opponents a settlement deal . But certain aspects of Wright’s proposal may not go down so well.

Wright vs COPA: What’s the Beef?

Dr. Wright’s UK copyright claims target some of the biggest names in crypto. Defendants in 3 separate lawsuits include Bitcoin Core developers, Coinbase, and Payward, which owns Kraken. For alleged intellectual property theft, Wright has sued for damages of hundreds of billions of pounds collectively. 

Under the umbrella of the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA ), his opponents filed a counterclaim  last year, “to disprove the claim made by Wright that he is Satoshi Nakamoto.” 

Although he hasn’t offered to renounce his claim to being the Bitcoin inventor, Wright’s proposed settlement appeals to one of COPA’s stated goals: ensuring that the Bitcoin database remains a public good, free and accessible to all.

Under the deal, Wright and the various COPA members “shall not pursue and are prevented from pursuing any database rights or copyrights” and shall be granted “irrevocable license in perpetuity to exploit, use, assign or license,” products that incorporate the Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash databases. 

The Battle to Represent Bitcoin

On the surface, Wright’s offer to renounce all Bitcoin copyright claims placates COPA’s concerns. However, the proposed settlement includes language that members may object to.

For starters, by agreeing to Wright’s terms, COPA would essentially endorse him as the inventor of Bitcoin. All parties to the deal would commit to “cease claiming that they represent the original Bitcoin as envisioned by me as Satoshi Nakamoto,” his settlement offer states.

Moreover, the specific vision for Bitcoin outlined in the settlement could cause trouble for certain COPA members, who would need to publicly acknowledge that “the intended purpose for creating Bitcoin was to create a system to provide micropayments.”

Broadly speaking, the reference to micropayments aligns with the views of the Bitcoin Core developers named in Wright’s lawsuit. Nevertheless, they are unlikely to relish the prospect of committing to something that could come back to bite them in the future. 

Likewise, COPA members whose interest in Bitcoin is motivated by profit have no reason to favor any particular vision for how the technology is used. On the contrary, they would probably rather retain the freedom to choose the most advantageous path at any given juncture.

In a statement on X , COPA outlined its response to Wright’s offer in no uncertain terms. “Hard pass on that ‘settlement’,” the post declared. On the one hand, the organization objects to acknowledging Wright as Satoshi Nakamoto. On the other, it argued that “the settlement comes with loopholes that would allow him to sue people all over again”.

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