Time to End Craig Wright’s Harassment Campaign Against Bitcoin Devs

Craig Wright has repeatedly litigated anyone questioning his claim to be Satoshi, harming numerous people in crypto in the process. The Crypto Open Patent Alliance aims to put a stop to this as its case comes to court Feb. 5.

AccessTimeIconJan 31, 2024 at 6:16 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 9, 2024 at 5:51 a.m. UTC

Craig Wright claims to be the mysterious creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. He isn’t.

But, undaunted by this basic truth, Wright has used his substantial financial backing to bring an endless stream of baseless litigations against crypto developers based on this lie, many of whom cannot even afford to present the most basic defense. This is the exact opposite of the vision that animated Satoshi’s white paper in 2008. It’s a drain on the talent and spirit of the crypto economy as a whole, and it needs to stop — now.

Coinbase Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal on behalf of the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA).

Three years ago, crypto industry members came together to create the Crypto Open Patent Alliance, or COPA, a vehicle for sharing crypto innovation openly and protecting one another from the kinds of false IP infringement claims that plague so many tech industries. COPA quickly recognized Wright’s litigation campaign was a tax on crypto development, and that the players he was targeting could never afford to fight back on their own. So, on April 9, 2021, COPA filed its own case and asked a court to declare once and for all that Craig Wright is not Satoshi.

Next week, starting Feb. 5, this case will finally go to trial. But the trial is about much more than just debunking Wright's delusions of grandeur. COPA is committed to stand up to bullies like Wright whose intention has been to “personally hunt every dev[eloper] until they are broke, bankrupt and alone.” It is time to put an end to his campaign against the heart of our industry, and set the record straight that Wright is not Satoshi and therefore can’t stall progress with false IP claims.

It's long past time for the true spirit of the Bitcoin white paper and open source to prevail.

The human cost of Wright’s vindictive crusade

For years, Craig Wright has wielded the power of litigation as a weapon against anyone questioning his Satoshi claim. Through numerous lawsuits and scorched-earth litigation tactics for the few who were able to afford to put forward a defense at all, he has sought to financially drain and emotionally distress his opponents. This includes the entire Bitcoin developer community, many of whom contribute to the development of the Bitcoin ecosystem without any expectation of financial reward.

Wright’s harassment is not limited to court cases alone. He has also sent sinister messages to developers threatening use the legal system to ruin their lives and their families’ security and livelihood. Hardworking individuals have also been forced to abandon important Bitcoin development work due to reasonable fears of litigation they can’t afford to fight, or worries for themselves and loved ones in the face of Wright’s demonstrated willingness to inflict deep personal hurt through coercion.

On trial: Wright’s lack of evidence, forged documents and fraud

Despite this brash campaign, Wright has failed repeatedly to produce any authentic documents supporting his claim, even when pressed in litigation. He has repeatedly provided forged documents to courts. He has failed to fulfill pledges like confirming a transaction by signing with Satoshi’s keys. He has promised in other cases that he would “put together 90 or 100 people'' to prove his claim, but provided not one disinterested person.

Wright’s claim to be Satoshi poses a potential existential threat to Bitcoin

If Wright were truly Satoshi, it would be easy for him to prove it beyond any doubt. But he cannot.

Wright’s trove of forged documents is at the heart of COPA’s litigation that begins next week. In fact, two experts hired by Wright himself have already acknowledged that many of Wright’s documents are forged.

Next week, in court, COPA will begin laying out allegations of Wright’s manipulation, including:

  1. Falsely backdated Word files: Multiple Word documents Wright provided as evidence were altered to appear as if they existed before the Bitcoin whitepaper was published.
  2. Sham handwritten documents: Multiple handwritten documents Wright pointed to as evidence of his purported creation of Bitcoin are written on pre-printed notepads that weren’t available until years after the whitepaper itself was shared by the real Satoshi in 2008.
  3. Fraudulently modified PDF copies of the white paper: Multiple PDF versions of the Bitcoin white paper provided by Wright for this litigation were deliberately altered to look like early drafts. But these contain metadata and fonts that weren't available until 2017.
  4. Faked email evidence: Numerous emails provided by Wright have falsified dates and altered sender and recipient information. Additionally, the domain used in these emails was not registered by Wright until years after the dates shown in these messages.
  5. Bogus hard drive: Last October, as the evidence in the COPA case began stacking up so dramatically against his false claims, Wright said he had just “discovered” a 2007 hard drive which had evidence of his preparatory work leading up to the white paper, 15 years after it was published. Last week, Wright’s own expert declared this hard drive to be a forgery and that some content appears to have been generated using ChatGPT.

Wright’s claim to be Satoshi poses a potential existential threat to Bitcoin. If Wright prevails in his claim, it could bring fundamental parts of the Bitcoin community to a standstill. None of us who care about the promise of crypto and the urgent need to update the global financial system can stand for that. Wright must be stopped permanently from making such claims, threatening developers and companies with fraudulent intellectual property litigation and consuming valuable time and resources necessary to build the innovative products a modern financial system requires.

COPA is committed to seeing this litigation through the end. COPA’s members, including Coinbase, understand that those of us with the resources to take on these fundamental fights must never hesitate. In these final days before trial, we are grateful for the court’s careful attention to our case, and its scrutiny of the evidence (or, in Wright’s case, “evidence”) the parties have put forth.

We are proud to be leading this charge on behalf of developers and every participant in the crypto economy today and tomorrow. We will not stop until developers are free from the threats, the costs and the fear that fraudulent actors like Wright, with endless funds to pull from impose on them and the development of crypto as a whole.

Crypto is for all of us.

Edited by Benjamin Schiller and Daniel Kuhn.


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Paul Grewal

Paul Grewal is the chief legal officer and corporate secretary at Coinbase.