Dr. Craig Wright signing

In the courts, the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto is already a foregone conclusion

The slate of lawsuits filed by Dr. Craig Wright against specific people and companies within the digital asset industry are often analyzed as though they are a deliberate continuation of Dr. Wright’s emergence as Satoshi Nakamoto in 2015, when media outlets Wired and Gizmodo revealed that a joint investigation had led them to believe that Dr. Wright is the elusive inventor of Bitcoin.

This is the wrong way to look at things. Though the now-infamous reveal might be said to have set the wheels in motion for Dr. Wright’s current legal skirmishes, it is usually forgotten (or intentionally omitted) that those outlets announced that Dr. Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto without his consent and against his wishes.

In fact, it seems that at the time Wired and Gizmodo were putting together their stories, Dr. Wright considered any leaking of his identity as Satoshi Nakamoto to be a disaster. This can be seen from private emails revealed in the Kleiman v Wright lawsuit. Dr. Wright was alarmed at the idea that journalists might have picked up his trail and he wrote to his wife and colleagues late in 2015 that a reporter was sniffing around his business in Florida and were looking for him in London, describing the reporters succeeding as the ‘worst case’ and worrying that the interest might have come as a result of an ex-staff member might be selling his data.

Dr. Craig Wright email exchange
Source: CourtListener

Therefore, viewing any of Dr. Wright’s actions since 2015 as some perpetuation of him having ‘outed’ himself as Satoshi is the wrong angle—particularly in light of the probability that the Wired and Gizmodo stories were the result of a malicious leak by one of Dr. Wright’s enemies. For example, Ira Kleiman was in touch with the same Gizmodo/Wired journalists that Dr. Wright wanted nothing to do with.

Dave email exchange
Source: CourtListener

The e-mail above is important not only because it shows Kleiman made a habit of using his late brother’s e-mail accounts to communicate with journalists, but most importantly because of when it was sent. This communication, which shows the pair had already clearly been continuing for some time, took place on December 4—days before Gizmodo doxed Dr. Wright and the ATO and raided his home in Australia at the exact same time.

More than that, viewing his current lawsuits—some of which have already led to significant developments in the law—as an attempt to strongarm the courts into recognizing his identity as Satoshi Nakamoto is incorrect. Not only because of the Wired/Gizmodo doxxing and Dr. Wright’s own statements, but also because IF that was his objective, it has already been achieved—and yet the lawsuits keep coming.

In Kleiman v Wright, the Florida federal court spent weeks hearing arguments not on whether Dr. Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto—the plaintiffs accepted that this was the case from the outset—but on whether the creation of Bitcoin involved anybody other than Dr. Wright. A jury overwhelmingly decided that it did not, while reportedly being ‘amazed’ at Dr. Wright’s education.

Bitcoin.org maintainer Cøbra (a pseudonym) was rudely awakened in the English courts after Dr. Wright sued him for breaching Wright’s copyright in the Bitcoin white paper by hosting it on his website. That case ended in the English High Court recognizing Dr. Wright’s authorship and ordering that Cøbra cease his infringement by removing the document from Bitcoin.org and replacing it with a notice acknowledging the order. 

In response to what he undoubtedly perceived as a coordinated campaign to denigrate his character on social media, Dr. Wright also sued a number of individuals for defamation.

One of these—and perhaps the person who was Dr. Wright’s loudest critic—was blogger Peter McCormack, who had tweeted among other things that Dr. Wright was fraudulently claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto. However, this lawsuit is no longer about Dr. Wright’s identity as Satoshi Nakamoto at all, because McCormack dropped his defense entirely as soon as both parties laid their evidence on the table in discovery (shortly thereafter, McCormack tweeted that Dr. Wright had submitted an ‘insane’ amount of evidence that he is indeed the inventor of Bitcoin).

McCormack eventually revived his defense, but he had notably stopped arguing that his allegedly defamatory tweets were true (which would be a complete defense to any defamation claim in the U.K.). Instead, McCormack will defend himself later this month solely on the basis that the tweets did not cause any harm to Dr. Wright. Here again, we see a case where the courts are treating Dr. Wright’s status as Satoshi Nakamoto as a foregone conclusion.

Of the other outstanding suits (such as the defamation actions against Roger Ver and Marcus ‘Hodlonaut’ Granath), Dr. Wright’s opponents seem determined to avoid the same fate as McCormack: rather than having to face up to Satoshi Nakamoto in court, they’re running fast. Roger Ver has been chased from jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction as Dr. Wright pursues that defamation case, while Granath tried a desperate (and ultimately unsuccessful) hail-mary to avoid meeting him in court.

So, the question is not whether the courts have accepted that Dr. Wright is Satoshi. Rather, it’s how much longer the industry can ignore the fact that they have. Almost all of Dr. Wright’s lawsuits have been preceded by letters warning the recipients that they risk litigation by continuing to misrepresent Bitcoin, host the white paper or defame him online, and in almost every case these letters were ignored. But it didn’t stop litigation: just Cøbra, who the courts forced to publicly acknowledge Dr. Wright’s authorship of the white paper.

One would think that the fate of people like Cøbra and the impending fate of McCormack would have shown Dr. Wright’s legal opponents that facing him in court is entirely different than conducting smear campaigns on social media, and a well-timed tweet or delisting of BSV won’t change that. Truth matters in the court of law—and judging by the victories Dr. Wright has stacked up so far, the truth is on his side.

Alas, the ignorance persists. In November 2021, when Dr. Wright first sent letters to Coinbase, Kraken and others warning them against misrepresenting the Bitcoin name, there appeared to be no response. This despite an admission by Coinbase in its public filings that the emergence of Satoshi Nakamoto poses an existential threat to their business. Less than a year later, Dr. Wright has filed a lawsuit against the exchanges to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, demanding that the exchanges cease misrepresenting the Bitcoin name and account of the profits earned as a result of the misrepresentation.

Coinbase is obligated to announce to the public any material event that could affect their share price. Coinbase’s board of directors has yet to notify their shareholders or the wider market that Dr. Wright followed through with his legal warnings from 2021 and filed a lawsuit against the cryptocurrency exchange. Their lack of proper disclosure of material information could open them up to potential additional class action lawsuits from their customers, not to mention getting them in hot water with regulators for the lack or proper disclosure.

As reported by Bloomberg, Coinbase did acknowledge in their most recent 10Q filing that if they went bankrupt, the over $256 billion in customer’s digital assets they are the custodians of “may be considered to be property of a bankruptcy estate…crypto assets we hold in custody on behalf of our customers could be subject to bankruptcy proceedings and such customers could be treated as our general unsecured creditors.”

Very curious timing of the bankruptcy disclosure, but it does bears repeating: none of these cases are or will be about Dr. Wright proving that he is Satoshi Nakamoto. We’re well past that point, as can be seen from the multitude of cases which have already recognized Dr. Wright’s status as the inventor and intellectual property holder in Bitcoin. Now it’s a case of the digital asset industry—including Dr. Wright’s detractors and opponents in litigation—waiting to see where the chips fall once the rest of these cases reach their conclusion via the legal system.

New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.