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Craig Wright’s Legal Woes Deepen With Bitcoin Developers Vindicated After Satoshi’s Name was Saved

Published April 19, 2024 11:23 AM
James Morales
Published April 19, 2024 11:23 AM
By James Morales
Verified by Peter Henn

Key Takeaways

  • Craig Wright’s holding company, Tulip Trading, has dropped a lawsuit against a group of Bitcoin developers.
  • The lawsuit sought to depict the developers as being in control of the Bitcoin network, thus having fiduciary responsibility.
  • After a UK court ruled that Wright didn’t invent Bitcoin, the self-proclaimed Satoshi could abandon other legal battles too.

After a UK court ruled once and for all that Craig Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto, lawsuits he has filed that rest on his claim to have invented Bitcoin are all but certain to fail. 

With his claim now discredited as far as UK law goes, Wright’s holding company, Tulip Trading, has now abandoned  a lawsuit against 12 Bitcoin developers that sought to make them liable for BTC Wright claims was stolen from him.

Craig Wright’s Tulip Trading Company vs. Bitcoin Developers

In the lawsuit, Tulip Trading argued a group of developers who had worked on various software projects relating to Bitcoin Core, Bitcoin Cash, BSV and Bitcoin ABC, had a fiduciary responsibility to help Wright recover the allegedly stolen cryptocurrency. 

Essentially, Wright wanted the developers to rewrite their client code to assert Tulip Trading as the owner of the crypto in question. 

On the surface, Wright’s claim seems reasonable. The vast majority of Bitcoin nodes run the latest version of Bitcoin Core. Surely that means the Core developers exercise enough control over the network to be liable to the claims of BTC owners?

But that argument ignores the practical politics of decentralization.

Can Anyone Control Bitcoin?

Just because most nodes do run the same client, doesn’t mean they have to. Bitcoin Core and the other pieces of software named by the Tulip Trading Company are all open-source. They evolve through consensus and debate. Therefore, anyone can contribute to the codebase, alter it or reject upgrades they don’t like. 

The mere existence of Bitcoin Cash and BSV shows that no single party can force their views on the network. Disagreements over design can and do occur. If one entity controlled Bitcoin, there would never be any forks.

Numerous versions of blockchain software exist and different communities use them. What determines their importance is not who wrote the software they use, but the size and influence of the community using compatible protocols. 

Bitcoin Law After the Satoshi Case

With the Tulip Trading Company lawsuit now dashed, the affected developers can breathe a sigh of relief. 

But it is a bit of a shame that courts never got to settle a question that could be just as important, if not more so, as “who invented Bitcoin?”.

Going forward, Wright may well abandon other legal battles in the UK in which his chances of victory are slim-to-nothing after the Satoshi case.

That’s good news for the likes of Coinbase and Kraken. But the possibility remains someone else could come along and reopen the Bitcoin copyright can of worms.

The question of whether the Bitcoin whitepaper can be copyrighted in the UK, even by the real Satoshi, remains unanswered. 

In his initial judgment in the case of Wright vs the Crypto Open Patent Alliance, Justice James Mellor ruled Craig Wright wasn’t the author. While the final verdict is still unreleased, he could potentially lay the matter to rest by issuing a more expansive ruling that places it in the public domain for good.

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