Going on Trial: An Enduring Bitcoin Mystery

Craig Wright has long claimed to be creator 'Satoshi Nakamoto,' but court could settle the debate
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 7, 2024 2:00 AM CST
Updated Feb 7, 2024 4:03 AM CST
Trial Aims to Unravel Mystery of Who Created Bitcoin
Dr. Craig Wright arrives at the Rolls Building for a hearing over the identity of the creator of Bitcoin, in London, Monday, Feb. 5, 2024.   (Lucy North/PA via AP)

One of the enduring mysteries of the cryptocurrency industry took center stage Tuesday in a London court where a trial could finally settle the debate over the identity of bitcoin's founder, the AP reports. Australian computer scientist Craig Wright entered the witness box at the High Court and testified he was the man behind "Satoshi Nakamoto," the pseudonym that has masked the identity of the creator of bitcoin. Wright has long asserted that he is Nakamoto. A nonprofit group of technology and crypto companies is trying to prove he's not. The trial started on Monday and is expected to last a month, before a judge rules at a later date.

"Wright's claim to be Satoshi is a lie, founded on an elaborate false narrative backed by forgery of documents on an industrial scale," attorney Jonathan Hough said on behalf of the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) at the outset of trial. "As his false documents and inconsistencies have been exposed, he has resorted to further forgery and ever more implausible excuses." At stake is not just bragging rights to the creation, but control of the intellectual property rights. Wright has used his claim as bitcoin's inventor to file litigation to drive developers away from further developing the open-source technology, the alliance claims in their lawsuit. The ruling will affect three pending lawsuits that Wright has filed based on his claim to having the intellectual property rights to bitcoin.

Wright asserted in court Tuesday that he created the technology and the cryptic identity behind it, which he said was based on his admiration for Japanese culture. He said the name was a combination of the surname of philosopher Tominaga Nakamoto and Satoshi David, a figure in a book about American tycoon JP Morgan, and a Pokemon character (the lead character in Pokemon, Ash Ketchum, is known as Satoshi in Japan). Defense lawyer Anthony Grabiner said the alliance hadn't produced positive evidence that Wright wasn't Satoshi, and only sought to undermine the authenticity of documents that he has relied on to prove that he's the creator. (More on the murky origins of bitcoin, and the speculation on Satoshi's true identity, which date back to 2008, here.)

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