U.K. court freezes £6M of Craig Wright’s assets amid Bitcoin creator claim

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A United Kingdom court sanctioned the freezing of £6 million ($7.6 million) in Craig Wright’s assets to prevent him from evading court expenses tied to his assertion of being Satoshi Nakamoto, the Bitcoin (BTC) network’s creator.

The decision was made after Wright transferred some of his assets outside the U.K. after a court verdict debunking his claim to be Nakamoto. According to a U.K. court document, this prompted him to shift shares of his London firm, RCJBR Holding, to a Singaporean entity on March 18. Judge James Mellor wrote in the document,

“Understandably, that gave rise to serious concerns on COPA’s part that Dr Wright was implementing measures to seek to evade the costs and consequences of his loss at trial,”

The judge endorsed the ‘worldwide freezing order’ the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) requested to address COPA’s total court expenses amounting to $8,471,225 (£6,703,747.91).

COPA was founded in 2020 “to encourage the adoption and advancement of cryptocurrency technologies and to remove patents as a barrier to growth and innovation.” Its 33 members include Coinbase, Block, Meta, MicroStrategy, Kraken, Paradigm, Uniswap and Worldcoin.

Wright, an Australian computer scientist, leveraged claims of being Satoshi Nakamoto to file copyright assertions concerning the Bitcoin network. For instance, he demanded two websites remove the Bitcoin white paper in January 2021.

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In April 2021, COPA filed a lawsuit against Wright, contesting his assertions of being Satoshi Nakamoto and thereby possessing copyright to Bitcoin. Following testimonies from early Bitcoin developers like Martti Malmi, the judge concluded on March 14 of this year that the evidence overwhelmingly suggests Wright is not Nakamoto.

In 2023, the Wright sued 13 Bitcoin Core developers and a group of companies, including Blockstream, Coinbase and Block, for copyright violations relating to the Bitcoin white paper, its file format and database rights to the Bitcoin blockchain.

The Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund responded to the lawsuit, highlighting the trend of abusive lawsuits against prominent Bitcoin contributors, deterring development due to the associated time, stress, expenses, and legal risks. Wright filed the United States copyright registration for the Bitcoin white paper and the code within it in 2019.

The Bitcoin white paper is now subject to an MIT open-source license, allowing anyone to reuse and modify the code for any purpose. A court injunction would prevent Wright from further copyright claims on it.

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