The identity of bitcoin’s founder has long been a mystery in the cryptocurrency industry, but a trial in a London court on Tuesday could potentially provide a definitive answer.
Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist, appeared in the High Court as a witness and claimed to be the real person behind the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto,” the anonymous creator of bitcoin.
For a significant amount of time, Wright has claimed to be Nakamoto. A non-profit organization composed of technology and cryptocurrency companies is attempting to disprove this. The legal proceedings began on Monday and are projected to continue for a month, with a final decision from a judge to be announced at a later time.
Attorney Jonathan Hough, representing the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), stated at the beginning of the trial that Wright’s assertion of being Satoshi is untrue and is based on a complex fabricated story supported by the production of falsified documents on a large scale. As his falsified documents and contradictions have been revealed, he has resorted to additional forgery and increasingly implausible justifications.
The competition is not only about claiming ownership of the project, but also about controlling the rights to the intellectual property.
According to the lawsuit, Wright has utilized his assertion as the creator of bitcoin to initiate legal action in order to prevent developers from continuing to improve the open-source technology. The court’s decision will impact three ongoing lawsuits that Wright has initiated, citing his ownership of the intellectual property of bitcoin.
On Monday, the alliance released a statement accusing Wright of making unfounded claims that he is the founder of bitcoin. They also mentioned that he has threatened to financially ruin developers and has filed lawsuits against volunteers, using aggressive tactics.
The uncertain beginnings of bitcoin can be traced back to the peak of the economic crisis in 2008. In a publication attributed to either an individual or a collective using the pseudonym Nakamoto, the concept of a digital currency that could be transmitted globally without the involvement of traditional banks or government-issued currencies was proposed. However, Nakamoto’s whereabouts became unknown after three years.
For years, there has been speculation about the actual person behind this identity. When Wright came forward in 2016 to claim it, many names were suggested as potential candidates. However, he soon retreated back into obscurity, admitting that he did not have the bravery to present further evidence.
In court on Tuesday, Wright claimed to have originated the technology and the enigmatic persona associated with it, inspired by his fascination with Japanese culture. He stated that the moniker was a fusion of Tominaga Nakamoto, a philosopher’s last name, and Satoshi David, a character in a book featuring American tycoon J.P. Morgan, as well as a Pokemon character.
He stated that he did not desire for the author to remain unknown, thus he utilized a pseudonym to safeguard his personal information.
He stated that this enabled him to concentrate on his work and ensured that the attention stayed on the progress and possibilities of bitcoin, rather than the person responsible for it.
Anthony Grabiner, a defense attorney, stated that the alliance failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove that Wright is not Satoshi. Instead, they attempted to discredit the legitimacy of the documents used to support his claim as the creator.
Grabiner noted that despite Dr. Wright’s prominent assertion of being Satoshi, no one else has successfully claimed the title. If Dr. Wright is not truly Satoshi, it would be expected for the real Satoshi to refute the claim.
Although Wright was able to persuade some prominent supporters of bitcoin by showcasing his use of Nakamoto’s private keys, other experts in the world of cryptocurrency have refuted his assertions. Despite facing doubt from many in the community, he has emerged victorious in legal battles.
In the year 2021, he successfully won a legal dispute in Florida against the relatives of a deceased business colleague. They had argued that they were entitled to half of the 1.1 million bitcoins, which is currently valued at around 37.7 billion pounds ($47.5 billion), that can only be possessed by someone who was involved with the digital currency from its inception, such as the founder.
During the trial, Wright and other professionals in the field of cryptocurrency confirmed that he was the owner of the disputed bitcoin. His legal team argued that although he had worked with his late colleague, David Kleiman, their joint efforts were not related to the development or initial functioning of bitcoin.
The bitcoin community has repeatedly urged Wright to transfer a small portion of his coins to demonstrate his ownership, as all transactions are visible to the public. Despite his promise to prove his ownership, Wright has yet to do so.
During the London trial, Hough and Wright had frequent disputes regarding the validity of documents that Hough claimed backed up his assertions.
According to Hough, the initial document outlining the development of bitcoin was composed using OpenOffice. Both parties’ specialists confirmed that Wright had presented a version made with LaTeX, a software that did not yet exist at the time of writing the paper.
Hough proposed that the skewed positioning of numbers on the paper behind the “creation story” indicated that it was a counterfeit.
Wright, who is scheduled to testify for another five days, stated, “If I had falsified that document, it would have been flawless.”