Bitcoin creator Dr. Craig S. Wright is welcoming the latest legal attack against his Bitcoin SV (BSV) protocol, saying the action will boomerang on his accusers.
This week, the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) filed a legal claim against Dr. Craig Wright in the High Court of Justice’s Business and Property Courts of England and Wales. The claim asks the court to declare that Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto, author of the 2008 Bitcoin white paper, and thus Wright has no claim to ownership of copyright in said document.
The claim comes in response to Wright’s legal action earlier this year, in which he targeted a number of developers and websites that hosted the white paper (including the individual known as Cøbra, who currently controls Bitcoin.org). These developers support the BTC protocol, which Wright maintains is a bastardized version of the Bitcoin detailed in the white paper, and thus these websites have no right to claim any affiliation with Bitcoin’s foundational document.
Given that COPA’s chosen legal venue is on Wright’s home turf and the fact that COPA’s status as claimant assigns it the higher burden of proof, this filing could well prove to be a tactical blunder by COPA.
Wright certainly seems to view it as such, telling CoinGeek that he welcomes COPA’s claim and the opportunity to “have my credentials judged legally.” Wright added that “erroneous” definitions provided by COPA in its claim would also give him “the chance to highlight exactly why BTC is not Bitcoin as set out in the white paper, the copyright of which will now, finally, be defined.”
COPA is a U.S.-based group comprising a number of tech companies, including Ark.io, BitHyve, Bitpay, Blockchain Commons, Blockstream, Bitbank, Carnes Validadas, Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN), Foundation Devices, Kraken, Lisk, Mempool.space, Mercury.cash, MicroStrategy (NASDAQ: MSTR), OKCoin, Protocol Labs, Request, Satoshilabs, Square, Stacks and Stakenet.
Apart from their interest in technology, many COPA members share a distinct antipathy toward Wright and the BSV protocol. These companies are heavily reliant on the success of the BTC token, which is enjoying sky-high valuations despite its 1Mb block-size limit and the resulting sky-high transaction fees and glacially slow confirmation times.
With the possible exception of Blockstream, perhaps none of COPA’s members are more dependent on BTC’s artificially pumped-up value than Coinbase, the crypto exchange that’s scheduled its Nasdaq debut this Wednesday. And since Wright’s aim is to disabuse people of the fiction that BTC is Bitcoin, Coinbase has extra motivation for seeing Wright fall.
The prospectus for Coinbase’s public listing confesses these concerns in its material risks section, citing the need for BTC and Ethereum “to resolve significant scaling challenges and increase the volume and speed of transactions.” For years now, the two protocols have been promising that solutions to these challenges are just around the corner, but the wheels on that bus just keep spinning in the mud.
Coinbase’s stated material risks also include “the identification of Satoshi Nakamoto … or the transfer of Satoshi’s Bitcoins.” It is alledged that Satoshi amassed a stash of 1.1M tokens before his exit from the public stage, and while these coins have sat dormant ever since, the prospect of so much ‘new’ supply flooding the market could prove the iceberg to BTC’s titanic valuation.
Ironically, Wright is the defendant in a separate lawsuit in Florida in which the plaintiff is trying to convince a court that Wright is Satoshi. Ira Kleiman, brother of the late computer expert Dave Kleiman (a friend and colleague of Wright), is asking the court to force Wright to hand over half of the 1.1M tokens belonging to Satoshi. Clearly, Coinbase is watching the outcome of this case the way anxious farmers watch the sky for signs of hail (and would-be Coinbase investors should do likewise).
Coinbase’s prospectus also celebrates its self-defined virtues, including a pledge not to “monetize our patents or attempt to block third parties from competing with us by asserting our patents offensively against third parties.” However, Coinbase reserves the right to “counter-assert our patents defensively” when such action suits their purposes.
Similarly, Square exec and COPA board member Kirupa Pushparaj claimed COPA’s mission was to “remove barriers to cryptocurrency innovation and adoption” through the elimination of “frivolous litigation.” Pushparaj palpably ignores the fact that BTC’s inherent technical limitations are the main barrier to its adoption as an actual currency, a fundamental weakness that no frivolous litigation against Wright will resolve.
Of course, one man’s frivolous litigation is another man’s fierce defense of hard-won intellectual property rights. Devising truly groundbreaking intellectual property takes brains, time, effort and money, and an inventor might well choose to regard infringements of his rights to be a hill worth defending. If that defense is regarded as problematic by those looking to use technology to which they’re not entitled, maybe they should focus on developing the world’s tiniest violin.
Wright has developed innovations that even his sharpest critics don’t deny, including the BSV protocol and its lack of an arbitrary block-size cap. This allows BSV to pack millions of transactions into a single block, while also permitting the BSV blockchain to host massive amounts of data, feats that would snap the BTC chain like its links were Cheerios.
COPA members such as Coinbase have little to gain from BSV’s expansive options, given Coinbase’s reliance on the fees generated from speculators furiously swapping BTC and Ether tokens as their value waxes and wanes. Since BSV is designed to act as a currency, not a commodity, Coinbase has a vested interest in ensuring BSV doesn’t emerge as the dominant protocol.
By taking this action against Wright, COPA resembles a medical supply company that has been making a fortune over the past year selling ventilators to hospitals at inflated prices. Having grown accustomed to easy profits, COPA seeks to discredit any perceived remedy for BTC’s well-documented limitations by fueling anti-BSV sentiment. It’s time to inoculate the world against these falsehoods.
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