COPA v Wright: Winning on crypto Twitter, losing in court of lawDecember 24, 2021
BTC maxis looking to undermine Dr. Craig Wright’s copyright claim on the Bitcoin white paper have been reduced to falsely claiming ‘victory’ before the fight has actually begun.
On Wednesday, the High Court of Justice in England and Wales released a ruling on pre-trial applications by the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) and Dr. Wright. COPA filed suit against Wright in April seeking a judgment that Wright is not the individual behind the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym credited with authoring the 2008 Bitcoin white paper. COPA wants the court to declare that Wright’s claim to copyright ownership of the white paper is invalid.
COPA’s original and amended particulars of claim sought to introduce evidence from the U.S. civil lawsuit filed against Wright by Ira Kleiman, brother of Wright’s former colleague Dave Kleiman, which was based on Ira’s allegations that Dave helped Wright develop and mine Bitcoin in the technology’s early days. The jury in that suit (Kleiman v Wright) recently returned a verdict that rejected Ira’s allegations and bolstered Wright’s claim to be the sole individual behind Bitcoin’s genesis.
Among the Kleiman v Wright evidence COPA initially sought to introduce into the U.K. proceedings were pre-trial opinions by U.S. judges regarding Wright’s conduct. Specifically, COPA said it would “rely upon a number of findings” these judges had made, despite U.K. precedent prohibiting the admissibility of findings and decisions of courts in proceedings between different parties, irrespective of whether they are U.S.- or U.K.-based courts.
Wright’s attorneys challenged COPA’s illegal attempts to introduce these findings and COPA ultimately excised this language from the re-amended amended complaint it filed in late November—just one week before the hearing on the admissibility issue. Since the wheels of justice turn slowly, HHJ Paul Matthews was forced to acknowledge the now moot controversy in his judgment issued this week.
COPA also sought to introduce documents produced during the Kleiman v Wright discovery phase into the U.K. proceedings, which Wright’s lawyers also challenged. On this front Matthews opted against intervening, noting that the nascent U.K. proceedings hadn’t yet made it to a case management conference and thus “these are matters best left to the trial judge.”
Following the release of Matthews’ judgment, COPA’s official Twitter account rushed out a tweet claiming to have “won its first hearing against Craig.” Given the narrowness of Matthews’ ruling, this is akin to a boxer declaring victory over his opponent after his name has been announced to the crowd pre-fight. The bell has yet to ring. Battle has not been joined. Blood, sweat and/or tears have yet to be shed.
Triumphant proclamations seem all the more incongruous given that Wright’s attorneys now have a solid claim on which to require COPA to pay the legal costs Wright incurred in forcing COPA to drop its bid to introduce the Kleiman v Wright judges’ pre-trial opinions.
The eagerness of COPA—a posse of BTC mega-maxis including Jack Dorsey’s Square, Michael Saylor’s MicroStrategy, the BTC Core developers at Blockstream and exchanges such as Coinbase and Kraken—to try this case on Crypto Twitter™ reflects both an internal recognition of the weaknesses of its legal argument and an increasingly frantic desire to combat growing public recognition of Wright as the sole inventor Bitcoin.
That recognition reached new heights this month as high-profile mainstream media outlets ranging from Reuters to the BBC trumpeted Wright’s successful defense of his Satoshi claims in Kleiman v Wright. The spotlight also brought new awareness of BSV, the only technology that upholds the vision of ‘peer-to-peer electronic cash system’ described in the Bitcoin white paper.
Ironically, COPA’s claim of victory came just as Law360 reporter Carolina Bolado released her summary of an interview with a member of the KvW jury regarding the deliberations in that suit. The juror said Wright’s notoriously prickly demeanor—the result of his Autism spectrum disorder—failed to sway the jury to Kleiman’s version of events, adding that they relied strictly on the evidence presented.
The juror further noted that the Kleiman v Wright jury found no “concrete proof” to support the Kleiman camp’s allegations that Wright had forged documents submitted by the plaintiffs. Given that these are the same documents on which COPA’s U.K. suit hinges, one can understand COPA’s uneasiness about the legal road ahead.
Then there’s the fact that Wright has already prevailed in one U.K. court case over his Bitcoin copyright. There’s also the inconvenience that COPA’s effort rests on proving a negative—that Wright isn’t Satoshi—while offering no possible alternatives as to Satoshi’s identity. Finally, Wright has ample evidence to support his copyright claim and his attorneys are confident that justice will continue to prevail.
The BTC maxi camp that are aggressively fighting Dr. Wright desperately need the Bitcoin brand name because their technology is inferior. BSV does not need the Bitcoin brand name to succeed, it’s the most superior blockchain technology on the market by leaps and bounds.
COPA’s members are tethered to BTC’s fortunes like non-swimmers to a cinderblock. As BTC’s value sinks, so sinks the fortunes of Dorsey, Saylor, Coinbase’s Armstrong et al. BSV is a dagger aimed at BTC’s heart and, like cornered animals, BTC maxis will do whatever is required to keep that threat at bay. It’s the height of irony that, while accusing Wright of being a charlatan, COPA considers it fair play to openly deceive the public.
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