- Last year Craig Wright filed five lawsuits against prominent crypto individuals.
- So far, three of them have been dismissed or dropped.
- Two of the lawsuits are still in progress.
Self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor and Bitcoin SV figurehead, Craig Wright, caused controversy last year when he threatened to sue top crypto leaders who had called him a fraud. They each claimed in various ways that he wasn’t the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin, known as Satoshi Nakamoto, with some referencing a wide body of research that casts doubt on his claims.
But Wright, funded by the deep-pocketed Coingeek founder Calvin Ayre, wanted to back his claim in court and prove to the world, that he invented Bitcoin. In April 2019, Wright served five individuals with lawsuits, including Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, Bitcoin.com founder Roger Ver and Blockstream CEO Adam Back.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Wright said, “The point is for one of his very vociferous, public detractors to defend their statements in court and allow him to make his case in front of a judge rather than Twitter.”
One year later, we decided to take a look at the current state of each lawsuit.
Craig Wright v Vitalik Buterin: Abandoned
Wright targeted Buterin over a GitHub repository he had been maintaining, entitled “Cult of Craig.” The repository was a collection of links to articles that Buterin claimed were evidence that he is not Satoshi, including quotes from “experts” calling Wright a fraud.
On April 12, 2019, Wright’s lawyers sent a letter to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin asking for a public apology and threatening to take him to court otherwise. Wright claimed that the articles were libelous and that Buterin’s GitHub was defamatory.
Buterin did not respond to the letter.
Coingeek, a site that supports Bitcoin SV and Wright, said, “If Buterin is a man who believes what he says, it’s a very simple matter now. He can respond in the English High Court and repeat his claim (under oath) that Dr. Craig Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto. Wright then can have his day in court to prove Buterin wrong.”
Eventually Wright filed a lawsuit but it didn’t go very far.
“In my/our case as far as I remember they just didn't follow up on the lawsuit and eventually the deadline ran out,” Buterin told Decrypt.
“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.
He wasn’t the only one.
Craig Wright v Adam Back: Dropped
Wright sent Back a letter on April 16, 2019, asking him to retract his claims about Wright and issue a public apology. The letter stated he needed to respond by April 23. Back ignored it.
At the time, Coingeek founder Calvin Ayre tweeted, “Adam Back back got his letter from Craig today so he will also have a chance to tell his story under oath in a UK court. He must really be happy about this given how loud he has been in the last week on his opinions.”
Similarly, news site svpool, which supports Bitcoin SV, said, "Wright is ready to stand up in court and prove that he’s Satoshi, and he dares his detractors to be adults about the whole thing and face him in a court of law."
And indeed, Wright followed it up. He filed a lawsuit in June, providing documents in July. Only it was short-lived. Several weeks after he announced his intent to sue, he dropped the suit.
SCA were asked and declined to give any explanation of why Craig retracted. Consequently Craig agreed to reimburse 100% of my costs, which is unusual: standard is 'reasonable costs' (65-75%), vs fault assumed 'indemnity' costs (80%). probably whole thing cost Craig > 20k GBP.
— Adam Back (@adam3us) April 12, 2020
“[Wright’s lawyers] said please stop defence as Craig had pre-emptively notified court he was discontinuing the case,” Back tweeted, adding, “[His lawyers] were asked and declined to give any explanation of why Craig retracted. Consequently Craig agreed to reimburse 100% of my costs, which is unusual.”
Wright paid Back £6,666.60 ($8,400) for his legal costs.
Craig Wright v Roger Ver: Dismissed
When Ver arrived in London on May 2, 2019, for a quick trip, he was pleasantly surprised to hear an impromptu Bitcoin Cash meetup had been set up since he was in town. But before he went inside the venue, he was less pleased to get served with a lawsuit.
The lawsuit referred to a recent video where Ver had called Wright “a fraud and a liar.” It asked for an apology and damages.
At the event, Ver told Decrypt, “I’m not worried one bit. I’m annoyed I have to spend some money on the lawsuit rather than hire one developer to build more tools to bring more economic freedom to the world.”
But the lawsuit didn’t stick. It was thrown out on a technicality: Ver had lived in Japan for 14 years and was not a UK citizen.
Wright was told to pay Ver £60,000 ($73,000) in legal costs but is currently appealing the decision.
“I expect a favorable ruling shortly,” Ver told Decrypt.
Craig Wright v Hodlonaut: Moved to Norway
It’s not often that space cats get sued for libel but this is crypto, after all. Hodlonaut is a pseudonymous Twitter personality who’s known for starting the Bitcoin Lightning Torch—a movement of Bitcoin over the Lightning Network around the world. His iconic Twitter profile image is of a cat in a spacesuit.
After Hodlonaut called Wright a scammer and a fraud, Wright threatened him with a lawsuit. But Hodlonaut beat him to the punch.
Regarding the legal situation, all I can state at this point is that I have issued proceedings against Craig Wright in Norway.
— brrrdlonaut🌮⚡🔑 (@hodlonaut) June 17, 2019
He filed against Wright in Norway, claiming a judgement that his tweets were lawful and that he shouldn’t have to pay damages. In this case, the judge said that Norway was the right jurisdiction—which Wright is currently appealing.
After this case was filed, Wright then started his libel case in the UK against Hodlonaut. But this was thrown out due to a lack of jurisdiction, which Wright is again appealing.
“If it ends up in Norway, as it looks like, [Wright] will not be able to just drop the case. Then it will go to court, and we will have a ruling,” he added.
But while lawyers are still debating where those cases should be held, one case is actually full steam ahead.
Craig Wright v Peter McCormack: Ongoing
Wright has managed to get one lawsuit going in the UK, largely because Peter McCormack, host of the What Bitcoin Did podcast, actually resides in the UK. Wright’s suing for £100,000 ($126,000) over McCormack calling him a fraud.
McCormack is unable to discuss the case, which is ongoing, but posted an update recently on Twitter. He said the Master—a procedural judge—wanted to see Wright prove that he is Satoshi.
Remember, they want £100k and myself to bend the knee, I offered £250k and to bend the knee if Craig signs the private keys as he did for Matonis and Gavin.
— Peter McCormack (@PeterMcCormack) March 12, 2020
McCormack said he offered £250,000 ($315,000) if Wright could sign a Bitcoin transaction using one of Satoshi’s private keys.
Only Wright claims they’re locked in a bonded trust that he can’t access. Which is actually the main issue in another lawsuit. The court case continues.