Will the High Court meet Satoshi Nakamoto?

Written by Samuel O’Toole | March 1, 2024

Intellectual Property

The High Court of England and Wales is adept to answer and determine difficult questions. These can often be questions of fact (for example who did what) or questions of law (did person A’s conduct amount to a breach of contract).

The High Court is a very good forum to determine disputes as due to the Civil Procedure Rules, each party or side to a claim gets an opportunity to forward their case, obtain disclosure and test the other party’s case in cross examination.

Since 2016, Dr Craig Wright has claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto. Nakamoto was the creator of the Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System white paper published in 2008 which sets out the basis on which electronic payments could be made directly without a financial intermediary.

Dr Wright has issued court proceedings in the UK against various bitcoin developers for the claimed infringement of his database right in the bitcoin format, the blockchain. In response, those developers and the Crypto Open Patent Alliance have issued a claim seeking a declaration that Dr Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto.

There are a number of claims on foot where the central “identity issue” is common between them. At the start of February a hearing came on before Mr Justice Mellor at the High Court of England and Wales to determine the issue of whether Dr Wright is (or is not) Satoshi Nakamoto. Dr Wright has been cross examined as to the alleged creation of fraudulent documents to support his position and closing statements are due for the middle of March.

So what’s the significance of this? Well, aside from the fact that Satoshi Nakamoto may have recently been cross examined in the High Court, and the £600bn value of bitcoin, the significance of this case is that the High Court is a very suitable place to determine complex questions of fact alongside IP issues.

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