In brief

  • Craig Wright sued Vitalik Buterin for calling him a fraud.
  • Buterin says that the lawsuit went nowhere.
  • Wright also filed lawsuits against four other crypto leaders.

Self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor Craig Wright has dropped his libel lawsuit against Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, according to both parties.

The libel lawsuit was one of five that Wright launched against various members of the crypto community who had cast doubt on his claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin.

Why was Craig Wright suing Vitalik Buterin?

In Buterin’s case, he asked, “Why is this fraud allowed to speak at this conference?” when Wright was onstage at Deconomy 2018 in Seoul, South Korea. Buterin also compiled a GitHub repository of links to articles and quotes from other crypto experts containing evidence that casts doubt on Wright’s claims.

On April 12, Wright’s lawyers sent a letter to Buterin asking him to retract his comments and publicly apologize; Buterin ignored the letter. According to Coingeek, Wright’s lawyers then served a formal claim form, or writ, against him in the UK.

Buterin says that was as far as it went.

“He did actually file a case,” Buterin told Decrypt, adding, “In my/our case as far as I remember they just didn't follow up on the lawsuit and eventually the deadline ran out.”

Vitalik Buterin speaking at Ethereal in Tel Aviv in 2019. Image: Shutterstock.

Wright’s camp told a slightly different story, putting the blame on Buterin for not electing to get sued.

“We invited Vitalik to participate in a UK case seeking redress for his defamatory comments. He stood on his rights and declined to respond to our letter to him,” said a spokesperson for Wright.

“As he would have known, that meant it was not going to be realistically possible to bring him into UK defamation proceedings, because of S.9 of the Defamation Act 2013,” the spokesperson added.

Section 9 of the Defamation Act 2013 is focused on preventing libel tourism. It aims to stop lawsuits being served in the UK purely to take advantage of its stricter definition of libel. In this case, it would have given Wright a big advantage. Instead of Wright having to prove that he is Satoshi, Buterin would have had to prove that Wright isn’t.

It’s almost as though Buterin didn’t want to get sued. Fancy that.