Craig Wright Accused of ‘Industrial Scale’ Forgeries in First Day of COPA Trial

The Crypto Open Patent Alliance is unable to provide direct evidence that Wright isn’t Satoshi, counsel for Wright fired back.

AccessTimeIconFeb 5, 2024 at 7:56 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 9:02 p.m. UTC
  • A trial to sort out Craig Wright's claims to be Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto has begun in a U.K. court.
  • The opening day saw accusations that Wright forged his proof and retorts that his challengers can't prove he's not who he says he is.

A highly anticipated trial probing Australian computer scientist Craig Wright’s claim to fame as the pseudonymous author of the groundbreaking 2008 Bitcoin manifesto kicked off Monday at a U.K. high court, where a judge decided Wright could add some new evidence to back up his case.

Wright, who maintains he is the mysterious visionary, Satoshi Nakamoto, has on numerous occasions legally pursued members of the crypto community – including developers building on the open-source Bitcoin project – alleging copyright violations.

In 2021, the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), a nonprofit backed by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and several high-profile industry players such as Coinbase and Microstrategy, sued Wright, challenging his claim to authorship of the manifesto, known as the Bitcoin white paper. While certainly not the first to have come after Wright, it might be the most intimidating alliance to take him on so far.

COPA in January rejected a proposal from Wright to settle the lawsuit and said it hoped that a favorable outcome from the trial would mean an end to the would-be Satoshi’s legal wars with the bitcoin community.

“The hope is at the end of this case, that when you stand up to a bully, the bully backs down and the bully stops,” a spokesperson for COPA told CoinDesk during an interview following Monday’s court session. “We're seeking an injunction that's going to preclude Dr. Wright from doing this ever again.”

In its lawsuit, COPA alleges in great detail that Wright forged the documents he has hitherto produced as proof that he is Satoshi.

“Wright's claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto is a brazen lie and elaborate false narratives afforded by forgery on an industrial scale,” the COPA spokesperson said.

Things were (quite literally) heated on Monday at the business and property courts of England and Wales as counsel for both Wright and COPA went head-to-head on the extensive allegations made and new evidence that Wright sought to submit to the court.

At the end of the day, presiding Judge James Mellor allowed new evidence from Wright to be admitted, subject to expert review and cross-examination by COPA.

‘Hamlet without the prince’

While COPA’s focus was on unveiling forgeries Wright allegedly committed in his efforts to prove he is Satoshi, the defense argued his educational and professional background made him someone capable of inventing something like Bitcoin.

“COPA has been unable to point to any direct evidence that Dr. Wright is not Satoshi,” Wright’s counsel, Lord Anthony Grabiner, said on Monday.

He also claimed that no one else has come forward as Satoshi, which, he argued, suggests Wright is a likely candidate.

“It's a sort of Hamlet-without-the-prince point,” said Lord Grabiner, adding later that even if Satoshi prefers to remain in the shadows, he could have declared himself to the court anonymously, which hasn’t happened.

COPA isn’t Satoshi either, and is only concerned with undermining Wright's claim, he added.

“It is striking given the public interest and the unlimited resources deployed by COPA in these proceedings that COPA has been unable to point to any direct evidence that Dr. Wright is not Satoshi,” Grabiner said.

The spokesperson for COPA said that the alliance isn’t interested in finding or revealing the real Satoshi, but it's concerned with proving once and for all that Wright isn’t.

“We are hopeful that when all this is said and done, we will have stood up for the developers who couldn't stand up for themselves and that they'll be free to contribute to Bitcoin and won't be cowed in fear by a character like Craig Wright,” the spokesperson said.

The trial will continue on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. local time, and Wright’s testimony and cross-examination are set to begin on Tuesday and continue until around Feb. 13.

A spokesperson for Wright told CoinDesk that his legal team led by U.K. law firm Shoosmiths is unlikely to comment on the ongoing trial.

Edited by Jesse Hamilton.


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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.