Craig Wright Is Not Satoshi, Didn't Author Bitcoin Whitepaper, Judge Rules

COPA took Wright to court to try and prevent him from suing developers and other members of the crypto community, claiming intellectual property rights over Bitcoin's technology.

AccessTimeIconMar 14, 2024 at 1:22 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 14, 2024 at 5:31 p.m. UTC

Craig Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto or the author of the Bitcoin whitepaper, U.K. Judge James Mellor said after closing arguments in the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) trial on Thursday.

The evidence presented during the month-long trial was "overwhelming," the judge said, adding that he plans to write a ruling detailing his conclusions – including that Wright did not create the Bitcoin system.

"I will make certain declarations, which I am satisfied are useful and are necessary to do justice between the parties. First, that Dr. Wright is not the author of the Bitcoin white paper. Second, Dr. Wright is not the person who adopted or operated under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto in the period 2008 to 2011. Third, Dr. Wright is not the person who created the Bitcoin System. And, fourth, he is not the author of the initial versions of the Bitcoin software. Any further relief will be dealt with in my written judgment," Judge Mellor said.

COPA sued Wright in 2021 to secure such a ruling to prevent him from taking legal action against developers and other members of the crypto community or claiming intellectual property rights over Bitcoin's open-source technology.

The outcome is a victory for COPA, which is backed by industry titans like Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, Coinbase and others.

Justice Mellor halted two other cases – including one Wright filed against Coinbase and Dorsey’s Block – alleging he had database rights to the bitcoin blockchain, which depended on the outcome of this case. The conclusion that Wright is not Satoshi may influence the continuation of each of those cases.

“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,” a COPA spokesperson said in an email to CoinDesk.

Wright declined to comment on the outcome of the trial.

Read the judge's full remarks.

Can't say Satoshi?

Just before Mellor announced what he planned to include in his written judgment, Wright's counsel opposed COPA's plans to seek injunctions against Wright that would prevent him from ever declaring he is the Bitcoin creator.

Wright’s Counsel, Lord Anthony Grabiner, argued that such a prohibition is unprecedented in the U.K. and would prevent Wright from even casually going to the park and declaring he’s Satoshi without incurring fines or going to prison.

Grabiner said that injunction could be "sinister" and urged the court to consider a judgment that would not infringe on Wright's legal right to freedom of expression, adding that Wright should be able to tell his community who he says he is.

Meanwhile, COPA's solicitor Jonathan Hough urged the Judge to consider the particular problem of this trial – that Wright has sought a "campaign of litigation" against the crypto community.

On Wednesday, Wright's team hit back at COPA's forgery allegations saying they needed more evidence and argued that the alliance’s expert witness Patrick Madden's evidence was inadmissible. On Tuesday, Hough said COPA plans to ask U.K. prosecutors to consider if Wright had perjured himself during the trial.

Mellor has not said when his final written judgment will be issued.

UPDATE (March 14, 2024, 14:53 UTC): Adds detail throughout and comment from COPA spokesperson.

UPDATE (March 14, 2024, 15:05 UTC): Adds Judge's comment made in court in third paragraph.

Sandali Handagama contributed reporting.

Edited by Nikhilesh De and Sandali Handagama.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Camomile Shumba

Camomile Shumba is a CoinDesk regulatory reporter based in the UK. She previously worked as an intern for Business Insider and Bloomberg News. She does not currently hold value in any digital currencies or projects.