In brief

  • Craig Wright claims to be Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
  • COPA disputes Wright's claims to authorship or ownership of the Bitcoin White Paper.

Craig Wright will soon learn how it feels to be on the other end of a lawsuit.

The Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance (COPA), founded by Jack Dorsey-run payment processing company Square, has filed a lawsuit against nChain chief scientist Craig Wright related to his attempts to copyright the Bitcoin white paper.

The lawsuit, filed with the UK’s High Court of Justice, contends that Wright is neither the author nor the owner of the white paper and, therefore, that COPA’s publication of the paper isn’t copyright infringement.

It’s asking the court for an injunction so that Wright can’t claim authorship or ownership of the document. That would provide anyone who posts the 2008 paper with legal cover. 

Wright, the Australian computer scientist who spearheaded Bitcoin Cash’s split into BCH and his favored Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV), has claimed in recent years to be pseudonymous Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto. 

In January, lawyers for Wright claimed the BSV frontman had decided to “enforce his copyright in the White Paper” and notified Square of Wright’s intention to sue if it didn’t remove the document from its website and/or respond within two weeks. It sent similar letters to Bitcoin.org and Bitcoincore.org. 

Though Bitcoincore.org ultimately complied, Wright’s legal strategy had the opposite effect of what he intended. Within a week of the January 21 cease-and-desist letters, other groups began hosting the white paper, including the governments of Estonia and Colombia.

COPA demurred. On the February 5 deadline to respond to Wright’s letter, COPA asked for more information about Wright’s copyright claims. “Please explain on what basis you assert that your client is the individual behind the pseudonym ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ and is the author of the White Paper.”

To make its skepticism clearer, Square then tweeted: “We don’t care who created bitcoin, just who didn’t.”

Square established COPA in September 2020 to prevent patent trolling—the practice of locking up patents not with the intention of using them, but of suing companies who infringe on them. Participating members agree to not assert patents on “foundational cryptocurrency technology’ except to defend crypto.

COPA’s members include crypto exchanges Coinbase, Kraken, and OKCoin, as well as MicroStrategy, Blockstream, and BitPay.

Wright, meanwhile, has fewer allies. Bitcoin SV, which his nChain lab supports, has been dropped by prominent exchanges like those in COPA, as well as by Binance. It has a market cap of $4.8 billion compared to Bitcoin Cash’s $12.5 billion and Bitcoin’s $1.1 trillion.