“On February 5, a trial will begin in the UK High Court, the purpose of which is to challenge Wright’s claim to Satoshi-hood. The case is being brought by the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), a nonprofit consortium of crypto and tech firms, in response to a slew of lawsuits filed by Wright against Bitcoin developers and other parties, in which he is trying to assert intellectual property rights over Bitcoin as its ostensible creator.
In its complaint, COPA claims that Wright’s behavior has had a “chilling effect,” obstructing the progress of Bitcoin by scaring away developers. It is seeking a declaration that Wright does not own the copyright to the white paper that first proposed Bitcoin and did not author the original code, and an injunction preventing him from saying otherwise. In effect, COPA is asking the court to rule that Wright is not Nakamoto.
The verdict will have direct implications for a tangle of interlocking cases, which will determine whether Wright can prevent developers from working on Bitcoin without his permission and dictate the terms under which the Bitcoin system can be used.
“The stakes are very high,” says a representative of the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit that helps Bitcoin developers defend against legal action, who asked to remain nameless for fear of legal retaliation from Wright. “In the eyes of the law,” they claim, Wright “is asking for ultimate control over the Bitcoin network.”