The Trial Over Bitcoin’s True Creator Is in Session

For eight years, Craig Wright has claimed to be the elusive creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. On Monday, in the growing heat of a British courtroom, a trial began which will finally settle the question.

Wright, flanked by his legal team, appeared relaxed during opening arguments, leaning back in his chair with one leg crossed over the other. This calm belied both the stakes of the lawsuit, which has major ramifications for the future of Bitcoin, and the forceful rhetoric of the plaintiff's attorney, Jonathan Hough, who called Wright's claim to Satoshi-hood ” blatant lie.”

The lawsuit Wright is facing was brought by the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), a nonprofit consortium of crypto and technology companies. COPA claims that Wright's recent history of intellectual property lawsuits – based on his claim to be the inventor of Bicoin – has had a “chilling effect” on Bitcoin, driving away developers. To prevent him from further hindering the development of Bitcoin, she is asking the court for a declaration that Wright is not Nakamoto.

Nearly three years after filing the suit, COPA today had its first chance to present its case against Wright at trial. Since Wright first claimed to be Nakamoto in 2016, Hough said, he has “terrorized” Bitcoin developers. “COPA filed this complaint to stop this conduct,” Hough said.

Unlike some recent crypto prosecutions, like the fraud trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, which became something of a public theater, the COPA case against Wright attracted little attention. 'attention. A small group of photographers gathered in front of the courthouse Monday; Inside, a few journalists and crypto observers jostled for the limited number of seats available. But the affair risks having serious consequences.

A trio of related lawsuits previously filed by Wright, in which he seeks to assert his intellectual property rights to Bitcoin, will be bound by the ruling. If COPA succeeds, Wright will have difficulty pushing his claims further. If Wright wins and subsequently succeeds in his own cases, he will be free to act as Bitcoin's custodian, deciding who is allowed to work on the codebase and under what conditions the system can be used.

The stakes are “very high,” said a representative for the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit that funds the defense of Bitcoin developers in a separate lawsuit filed by Wright, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation legal rights on the part of Wright.

The respective opening arguments offered a first indication of both COPA's strategy to dismantle Wright's claims – in short, to discredit through forensic analysis the entire body of documentary evidence presented by Wright – and to Wright's approach to countering accusations of counterfeiting.

Most of Hough's opening speech focused on how Wright allegedly falsified or manipulated documentary evidence that, if credible, would indicate that he is Nakamoto. Among various allegations, Hough accused Wright of slowing down his computer's clock to make documents appear as if they were created before Bitcoin existed, deleting files and modifying files. others on a hard drive whose contents he submitted as evidence, and of having attempted to fabricate new evidence. after forensic document analysis experts identified problems with existing documents.

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