Dr. Craig Wright first claimed to be the Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto in 2016 but has yet to present any convincing evidence to back up his claim.
As a lawsuit brought by the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) kicks off on Monday, February 5, Wright will need to make a compelling argument that he is who he claims to be. Otherwise, his Bitcoin copyright claims could be dashed for good.
For as long as Wright has been publicly asserting that he authored the Bitcoin white paper, skeptics have pointed out that if he really was Satoshi, he could easily prove it by signing a message with Nakamoto’s verified PGP key or demonstrating ownership of one of the first Bitcoin private keys ever created.
As it happens, Wright first became associated with the Bitcoin inventor thanks to the apparent discovery of such alleged signatures in 2016. The Bitcoin Core developer Gavin Andresen can be credited with giving the story its most significant exposure after he claimed to have witnessed Wright sign something with private keys from the earliest Bitcoin block rewards.
Upon closer scrutiny, however, the PGP signatures were soon debunked as forgeries. What’s more, these days the Bitcoin community mostly accepts that Andressen was fooled by simple deception and Wright has never repeated the signing under close observation. But with the COPA lawsuit underway, there is no better evidence Wright could bring to trial.
With members including Coinbase, Kraken MicroStrategy and WorldCoin, COPA’s stated mission is to “encourage the adoption and advancement of cryptocurrency technologies and to remove patents as a barrier to growth and innovation”.
The organization’s beef with Wright stems from his attempts to copyright the Bitcoin white paper and parts of the Bitcoin database. The feud started when Wright attempted to sue various members for billions of dollars alleging intellectual property theft. In response, COPA filed a countersuit hoping to shut his copyright claims down for good.
Unless he can present solid evidence that he authored the Bitcoin white paper, the lawsuit could be bad news for Wright. In the runup to the trial, a settlement offer that would have seen him renounce his copyright claims was rejected by COPA, which gave the proposal a “hard pass.”
“Just like Craig Wright forges documents and doesn’t quite tell the truth, his description of the settlement offer isn’t quite accurate either,” the group said in a statement. According to COPA, Wright’s proposal “comes with loopholes that would allow him to sue people all over again.” It would also “force us to accept that he is Satoshi,” a prospect the organization is apparently unwilling to stomach.