What Happens Next in COPA vs Craig Wright Trial is Down to the Judge

The Crypto Open Patent Alliance is seeking several court injunctions against Wright.

AccessTimeIconMar 15, 2024 at 5:46 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 15, 2024 at 5:48 p.m. UTC
  • Judge James Mellor said that Wright was not Satoshi Nakamoto the creator of Bitcoin.
  • What happens next will depend on what Mellor states in his written judgment.

The Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) secured an initial victory on Thursday when the presiding judge in its U.K. trial against computer scientist Craig Wright declared that he is not Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin, but the battle is not over. COPA wants court orders in place to limit Wright's ability to sue others.

Wright has pursued a series of lawsuits claiming rights to the Bitcoin whitepaper, the Bitcoin technology and stashes of bitcoins, as well as alleging defamation.

The “judgment has truly eroded Wright’s credibility to continue passing off as Satoshi Nakamoto," a Kraken spokesperson told CoinDesk. The Kraken exchange is a defendant in one of Wright's suits.

COPA vs. Wright's 'Campaign of Litigation'

COPA wants more. The organization, which was created to protect the open source network from threats, wants injunctions that would limit Wright from claiming to be Nakamoto again, asserting authorship of the Bitcoin whitepaper and pursuing more litigation against members of the crypto community. The injunctions are likely to be argued individually.

Also, COPA lawyers said on Tuesday that they plan on asking U.K. prosecutors if Wright perjured himself when trying to prove he was the creator of Bitcoin.

"Any further relief will be dealt with in my written judgment," Judge James Mellor said in his closing statement on Thursday. The court declined to comment on when the judge's final ruling will emerge. The full written judgment will address all the evidence, including allegations of fraud and 46 allegations of forgery of evidence.

At this point, it remains unclear yet whether or not Wright will be prevented from continuing to claim he is Nakamoto, Louise Abbott, partner at Keystone law firm said.

Impact on existing cases

COPA's win should heavily sway some of his existing cases in favor of the crypto community, Abbott explained. Wright's loss is set to weaken his claims in his case against Kraken and Coinbase. He alleged that those exchanges are not selling bitcoin, but rather, his intellectual property.

"Wright’s dramatic loss will significantly weaken his claims in the passing-off case, potentially affecting his ability to assert intellectual property rights related to Bitcoin," Abbott said.

Another case that will be influenced by Thursday's result will be the database rights case against various entities including Coinbase.

"He alleges violation of his copyrights to the Bitcoin whitepaper and database rights to the Bitcoin blockchain," Abbott said. "This week’s findings will dramatically affect his prospects of succeeding in these arguments."

Wright's cases are international. One notable example is a defamation case he lost against Bitcoin advocate Magnus Granath – otherwise known as Hodlonaut – in Norway. Wright told CoinDesk two years ago that he planned to appeal the case.

"In terms of the future, we will have to wait to see the impact on other cases across the globe and whether there will be an injunction against Wright preventing him from continuing with such claims," Abbott said.

Kraken believes that it is unlikely that Wright will stop suing members of the crypto community.

"While we expect Wright will continue pursuing these claims, he has fooled no-one in the crypto community, and we are confident these claims can now be definitively disposed of," a Kraken spokesperson said.

Could Wright Appeal?

Wright hasn't responded to a CoinDesk email asking if he planned to appeal Mellor's decision.

"I will extend time for filing any appellant's notice until 21 days after the form of order hearing," which will happen after the written judgement, Mellor said on Thursday.

When appealing a court's decision there has to be proper legal grounds for an appeal, according to the HM Courts and Appeals service. One example of proper legal grounds would be if "you can show that the decision was wrong because of a serious mistake or because the procedure was not followed properly."

If the court grants an appeal, the judge sets out the issues that can be raised, though those constraints can also be appealed.

"If the judge has considered your permission to appeal on paper and refused, and believes your application cannot in any way be justified, they may order that you cannot ask their decision to be reconsidered at an oral hearing," according to the procedures outlined on the U.K. government website.

Edited by Nikhilesh De and Jesse Hamilton.


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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.