UK trial opens into bitcoin ‘inventor’ claims

LONDON: The trial of Craig Wright began in London on Monday (Feb 5), seeking to determine whether the Australian computer scientist invented bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency.

Wright, 53, says he is Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym of bitcoin’s creator and author of a white paper that introduced the cryptocurrency to the world in 2008.

Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), a non-profit organisation set up to keep cryptocurrency technology free from patents, is suing Wright over his claims first made in 2016.

The trial at London’s High Court, presided over by judge James Mellor, is expected to last until mid-March.

“Over a period of nearly 10 years … (Wright had) the strongest incentive to prove he is Satoshi Nakamoto – but single handedly failed,” said COPA lawyer Jonathan Hough in opening remarks.

Documents provided by Wright were not written in the same software code as the original 2008 white paper, according to Hough.

“COPA’s case is, simply, that Dr Wright’s claim to be Satoshi is a lie, founded on an elaborate false narrative and backed by forgery of documents on an industrial scale,” the lawyer added in a written submission.

“As his false documents and inconsistencies have been exposed, he has resorted to further forgery and ever more implausible excuses.”

COPA wants the High Court to rule that Wright – who is expected to face questioning on Tuesday – is not Satoshi.

The enigmatic programmer describes himself as “Creator of Bitcoin” on social media platform X.

“I conceived bitcoin, and I unveiled it to the world,” he wrote last month in a posting on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Wright, who on his website describes himself also as a businessman, has been involved in a number of lawsuits brought by himself but this time around is being asked to defend himself.

COPA brings together heavyweights in the industry, including cryptocurrency platform Coinbase and Block, which specialises in digital payments.

It accuses Wright, nicknamed ‘Faketoshi’ by his detractors, of lying about his identity and of forging and manipulating documents presented to try and prove his claims.

The outcome of the case could determine that of another pitting Wright against 26 developers – including Coinbase – for allegedly infringing upon his intellectual property rights.

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