Craig Wright Discontinues Tulip Trading Case in Major Win for Bitcoin Developers

On Monday, Dr. Craig S. Wright discontinued a lawsuit his holding company, Tulip Trading, brought against 12 Bitcoin developers and others in the UK High Court. 

Wright’s discontinuance brings an end to a nearly decade-long campaign of harassment and intimidation and marks a major win for the Bitcoin developers and open source software in general. 

Wright’s discontinuance follows on the heels of the Bitcoin developer’s victory in a related lawsuit (“Identity Trial”) brought against Wright in the UK that sought to definitively prove that Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin. 

On Thursday, March 14, the judge overseeing the Identity Trial ruled that the evidence against Wright’s claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto was “overwhelming.” Shortly after the closing arguments, the judge offered a four part opinion on the trial, saying:

“First, 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.” 

The ruling followed several weeks of expert testimonies and the presentation of evidence that showed that Wright had  “lied on an extraordinary scale” and “invented an entire biographical history, producing one tranche after another of forged documents to support it.”

The ruling in the Identity Trial had important implications for the Tulip Trading case that Wright brought against 12 Bitcoin developers in 2021. In the Tulip Trading case, Wright sought to introduce a backdoor into the Bitcoin Core software to recover 111,000 Bitcoin he alleged were lost in a hack of his home computer network. 

The Tulip Trading case had existential implications not just for the Bitcoin network but for open source software more broadly insofar as its outcome could have set a precedent for whether developers could be held liable for their contributions to open source projects. 

Wright’s discontinuance is an important victory for developers named in the Tulip Trading lawsuit and the entire Bitcoin community. These developers have had to deal with years of Wright’s relentless legal harassment and intimidation, and the entire Bitcoin community suffers when these developers feel so threatened that they choose to stop contributing to the network. 

Wright’s harassment of the Bitcoin developers named in the Tulip Trading case was relentless. As Mr. Alexander Gunning, KC summed up at the end of in the Identity Trial:

“The COPA claim has been brought, at least in part, due to the harm, the actual harm that has been caused by Dr Wright’s campaign against the developers and others. We set that out in some detail in our written opening…I just remind your Lordship of what my clients have actually been having to deal with….: 

“I will make sure that when every developer and I mean every developer goes to court and makes a claim that bitcoin is decentralised and that the actions of the developers don’t matter and that they don’t control the network that they are not just sanctioned because they are being silly or ignorant…I’m going to make sure that everybody knows. I’m going to make sure that the court knows. I’m going to make sure that they globally stand in front of the court and if they say this, if they say that bitcoin developers do not control the network that by the time we finish with them they will be pulled up [for] perjury and arrested as a criminal… 

Every one of them are criminals…I will make sure that they go to prison for decades…If a single developer goes to court and says they can’t make this change, that if they out that change on the system nobody will run it, that it can be run on any Blockchain anywhere on this earth and be exchanged over the Internet using a domain and using the existing banking system. I will make sure that they spend so long in prison that their grandchildren will be old when they get out. When we get to court and they say bitcoin is a cypherpunk creation and that it is anarchist I will make sure that they are cited for misleading the court. Not that they don’t know because they do. They will be pulled up and they will be facing perjury every time they lie…Please feel free to make sure that eveeerrrrrryyyyy [sic]…BTC developerr [sic]…every COPA member knows that if they go to court and they actively live with these deceptions of decentralisation that do not follow law that is existing …they will end in prison.”

My Lord, you have been presented with that man who made those threats. He is a charlatan.”

This sort of targeted abuse led many longtime and passionate Bitcoin contributors to stop working on the project out of concern that they would become a target of Wright’s legal harassment. Wright’s discontinuance of the Tulip Trading lawsuit means that Bitcoin developers are once again free to contribute to this world-changing network without the threat of litigation and harassment.