London court allows Australian Craig Wright to pursue Bitcoin copyright claim

Case hinges on who wrote Bitcoin's white paper

FILE PHOTO: A representation of virtual currency Bitcoin is seen in front of a stock graph in this illustration taken January 8, 2021. Reuters
FILE PHOTO: A representation of virtual currency Bitcoin is seen in front of a stock graph in this illustration taken January 8, 2021. Reuters

London's High Court has paved the way for a case that could force its judges to take a view on who invented Bitcoin, the world's biggest cryptocurrency, which last week soared to all-time highs.

The court has allowed Dr Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist who claims he created Bitcoin, to serve a copyright infringement lawsuit against the operator and publisher of the bitcoin.org website, which calls itself Cobra.

Dr Wright can now try to pursue his case, although the defendant might be a resident abroad and has not disclosed a name, identity or address, according to court filings issued on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

The case hinges on who wrote Bitcoin's white paper, which first outlined the technology behind the digital currency, under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008.

The identity of Mr Nakamoto has long been a hot topic and Dr Wright's claim is fiercely disputed, not least by Cobra.

"Bitcoin.org isn't based in the UK and Craig's copyright claims over the white paper can be easily verified to be false," Cobra said in a message to Dr Wright's lawyers, Ontier, over Twitter on January 20, filings showed.

Dr Wright, who is a resident in Britain and says he has the evidence to support his claims, accuses Cobra of wrongfully controlling the bitcoin.org website and demanded that it remove the white paper.

"The case will turn on whether the court is satisfied that Dr Wright did indeed author and owns the copyright in the white paper and, therefore, that he is Satoshi Nakamoto," said Simon Cohen, a lawyer at Ontier.

A statement on bitcoin.org on January 21 dismissed the claims as "without merit".

"We've been threatened to take down the Bitcoin white paper by someone who obviously isn't the inventor of Bitcoin [if he was, that would make him the 25th richest person in the world, which he obviously isn't]," Cobra said by email.

"Seems like he's trying to abuse the UK courts to make them try to censor the white paper and harass small websites like us, providing education content, with his behaviour."

It remains unclear whether Cobra will reveal its identity to defend the claim and avoid any default judgment in Dr Wright's favour.

Bitcoin has gained nearly 90 per cent this year and hit a record of almost $65,000 last week.

Updated: April 23, 2021 01:03 AM

SHARE

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one

Most Read