A UK judge has ordered Craig Wright, the self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor, to prove that he is the nearly mythical and pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, according to a pre-trial review order issued on Wednesday.
The ruling, which includes other stipulations, stems from the court case Wright, Wright International & Others v. BTC Core & Others. The Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund is supporting claimants in the lawsuit against Wright. One of the claimants in the lawsuit is the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), an industry body representing various companies developing the Bitcoin blockchain.
Last year, Block CEO Jack Dorsey announced the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund to support developers targeted for lawsuits by Craig Wright’s Tulip Trust Limited.
“The Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund is a nonprofit entity that aims to minimize legal headaches that discourage software developers from actively developing Bitcoin and related projects such as the Lightning Network, Bitcoin privacy protocols, and the like,” Dorsey said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund backed 13 Bitcoin developers in two cases launched by Wright over the alleged theft of 111,000 Bitcoins that Wright claimed to own.
“The forthcoming trial consists of the main trial in the COPA claim and the trial of a preliminary issue in the BTC Core claim,” wrote high court judge James Mellor. “For that reason, it has been referred to as the joint trial. It concerns the ‘identity issue,’ namely whether Dr. Craig Wright is the pseudonymous ‘Satoshi Nakamoto,’ i.e., the person who created Bitcoin in 2009.”
The court’s decision said Wright must provide printed proof of 95 documents dating back to 2007 that attorneys for Wright said were stored on a recently found Samsung USB drive that would prove he is Bitcoin creator Nakamoto.
“By 4 pm on 18 January 2024, Dr Wright and COPA shall exchange and shall serve on the Developer Defendants expert reports on (a) forensic document analysis in respect of the Additional Documents, the Samsung Drive, and the BDO Drive; and (b) LaTeX software,” Mellor said.
The problem with Wright’s claim, COPA asserts, is that the drives were purchased in 2015 or 2016 and couldn’t have been used when Wright’s claim said they were.
Along with the order to provide proof of the claim of being Nakamoto, the judge ordered Wright to pay an additional $992,000 to the Crypto Open Patent Alliance, Bitcoin developers, and companies named in the case against him.
“I propose that the developers should have total security for their participation in the joint trial in the sum of £900,000,” Mellor said. “They already have £100,000 of that total, so I order the provision of further security for the costs of the developers in the sum of £800,000.”
The trial was scheduled to begin on January 15, 2024, but the ruling has pushed the start date back at least a year to give Wright’s legal team time to prepare.
Since 2016, the controversial Australian computer scientist has launched several lawsuits, including accusing sites posting the Bitcoin whitepaper of copyright infringement based on his claim to be Nakamoto.
Last year, Wright lost a lawsuit in Norway against Magnus “Hodlonaut” Granath, whom Wright sued after Granath publicly challenged his claim of being Satoshi.
“I have been too angry for too long as I cared for external validation,” Wright said on Twitter at the time. “The only validation I seek now is from my family and from seeing my ideas come to fruition and to be used by the world. Not everyone wants what I have to offer.”
Edited by Ryan Ozawa.