Bitcoin Identity Trial Concludes Dr. Craig Wright Is Not the Creator of Bitcoin

May 23, 2024

Dr. Craig Wright’s claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the elusive creator of bitcoin and author of the bitcoin white paper, has been unequivocally dismissed by Mr. Justice Mellor of the English High Court. The judgment, issued on 20 May 2024 in the case of Crypto Open Patent Alliance v Craig Steven Wright [2024] EWHC 1198 (Ch), meticulously details why Dr. Wright’s assertions were found to be false.

Parties facing claims from Dr. Wright (whether in England or other jurisdictions) will be assisted by Mr. Justice Mellor’s determination that:

“Dr Wright’s attempts to prove he was/is Satoshi Nakamoto represent a most serious abuse of this Court’s process. The same point applies to other jurisdictions as well: Norway in particular. . . . It is clear that Dr Wright engaged in the deliberate production of false documents to support false claims and use the Courts as a vehicle for fraud. Despite acknowledging in this Trial that a few documents were inauthentic (generally blamed on others), he steadfastly refused to acknowledge any of the forged documents. Instead, he lied repeatedly and extensively in his attempts to deflect the allegations of forgery.” 

Mr. Justice Mellor emphasised that the real Satoshi Nakamoto would not have needed to resort to such deceit and speculated that Satoshi is likely a group of people rather than an individual. 


The judgment also touched on the issue of injunctive relief, which will be addressed in a forthcoming Form of Order hearing. This legal remedy aims to prevent Dr. Wright from continuing to assert his false claims and initiating further lawsuits against bitcoin developers. COPA, a nonprofit representing bitcoin developers supported by prominent figures such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and crypto exchange Coinbase, plans to seek several injunctions to safeguard the crypto community.


Prior to handing down his judgment, Mr. Justice Mellor had already granted a worldwide freezing order against Dr. Wright in the sum of £6 million ($7.6 million). This followed his opponents’ identification that, in the days following Mr. Justice Mellor’s initial finding, Dr. Wright had filed to transfer his shares in a holding company to one registered in Singapore, giving rise to serious concerns that Dr. Wright was seeking to evade the cost consequences of his loss at trial.

This decision provides a useful analysis as to the availability of prospective costs orders. However, the finding is very fact-specific and relied on the fact that “[t]his is not a merely prospective costs order which they might secure dependent on success in the action. COPA (and the Developers) have succeeded. Accordingly, the relevant merits for the costs order are very strong indeed. . . . They are far stronger than a more normal case where the claimant merely establishes that it has a good arguable case on the merits of the underlying claim.”  


These judgments mark an important step in ending a protracted campaign of litigation and threats by Dr. Wright, who had sought to take command of the cryptocurrency ecosystem by suing journalists and bloggers who questioned his purported identity for defamation and claiming intellectual property rights against developers and other parties.

Following the judgment, COPA celebrated the ruling as a victory for the open-source community, highlighting the collective efforts that led to this outcome. Meanwhile, Dr. Wright announced his intention to appeal and thanked his supporters on social media.

This decisive ruling not only clears the air regarding bitcoin’s mysterious origins but also sets a significant precedent for future intellectual property disputes in the cryptocurrency realm.

For more information, see the judgment and the freezing order judgment.  


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