Computer scientist not mystery Bitcoin creator ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’, says judge

Business

An Australian computer scientist is not ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’, the pseudonym attributed to the unknown person widely credited with inventing Bitcoin, a High Court judge has ruled.

Dr Craig Wright, who claimed he was Satoshi, was sued by the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (Copa), a non-profit group that includes cryptocurrency firms.

During the five-week trial, the group claimed he had created an “elaborate false narrative” and forged documents to suggest he was Satoshi and had “terrorised” those who questioned him.

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“Dr Wright has consistently failed to supply genuine proof of his claim to be Satoshi: instead, he has repeatedly proffered documents which bear clear signs of having been doctored,” Jonathan Hough KC, representing Copa, told the court last month.

He denied the allegations.

At stake were not just bragging rights to the creation of the world’s most popular virtual currency, but claims over intellectual property.

Mr Justice Mellor gave a short ruling on Thursday, following closing speeches, that Dr Wright was not behind the pseudonym and was not the person who created the Bitcoin system or its initial versions.

A full ruling is due at a later date.

According to a court transcript, the judge said: “Having considered all the evidence and submissions presented to me in this trial, I’ve reached the conclusion that the evidence is overwhelming.”

The civil trial heard the original Bitcoin founding document, a white paper named Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, was released in 2008 under Satoshi’s name.

Dr Wright first claimed to be Satoshi in 2016.

His barrister, Lord Grabiner KC, said the expert had released the white paper after “having spent many years devoted to studying and working on concepts underpinning Bitcoin” and there was “clear evidence” demonstrating his creation of the digital currency.

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He also said that Copa was “exclusively concerned” with undermining Dr Wright’s claim and that if anyone else was Satoshi, they or their associates would have come forward.

A Copa spokesperson said after the ruling: “This decision is a win for developers, for the entire open source community, and for the truth.

“For over eight years, Dr Wright and his financial backers have lied about his identity as Satoshi Nakamoto and used that lie to bully and intimidate developers in the bitcoin community.

“That ends today with the court’s ruling that Craig Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto.”

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