Cøbra Can't Fight $700K Craig Wright Legal Fees as an Anon, UK Judge Rules Again

The pseudonymous Bitcoin.org operator lost an appeal on a November ruling that said he cannot challenge legal fees from the self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor while remaining anonymous.

AccessTimeIconSep 19, 2023 at 1:01 p.m. UTC
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A London High Court Judge on Monday upheld a previous ruling that Bitcoin.org website operators, including the pseudonymous Cøbra, must give up their identity to avoid hefty legal fees levied by self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor Craig Wright.

Wright served legal papers on Cøbra in April 2021 over the copyright of Bitcoin's whitepaper, the popular cryptocurrency's manifesto. The Australian computer scientist who has long claimed to be its pseudonymous author Satoshi Nakamoto, accused operators of the Bitcoin.org payment network's website of infringing his rights by publishing the white paper. Wright claimed that, as Satoshi, he owned the copyright to the Bitcoin manifesto.

After Cøbra was a no-show in court, a judge ordered the white paper to be taken down from the website. Then, when Cøbra attempted to challenge Wright's request 568,516.42 pounds ($704,500) in legal fees, a London High Court Judge ruled in November that in order to challenge the costs, Cøbra had to identify themselves.

On Monday, London High Court Justice Richard Smith dismissed Cøbra's appeal on the November ruling saying that, although there are several reasons why parties would legally request anonymity, including threat to life, Cøbra's reasons for not identifying themselves seemed "not only unworkable but also risked undermining the very principles of natural justice" because they sought to remain anonymous "not only against the public at large, but against the Claimant [Wright] and the court as well."

Pseudonymous characters that are prominent community members, developers or influencers are commonplace in the crypto world, which may explain Cøbra's fight to stay anonymous. Meanwhile, Wright is pursuing multiple lawsuits around the world over the Bitcoin whitepaper, and even libel over claims that he is Satoshi.

Lawyers for Wright told CoinDesk on Monday that they are awaiting an order on next steps, including whether Cøbra is now required to pay up in full. Legal representatives for Cøbra did not immediately respond to a CoinDesk request for comment.


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Sandali Handagama

Sandali Handagama is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for policy and regulations, EMEA. She does not own any crypto.

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