A self-described "blockchain expert" claiming to be the inventor of Bitcoin has had his attempt to sue a YouTuber, who made a video rubbishing that claim, laughed out of the UK High Court.
Craig Wright, an Australian-born computer scientist and citizen of Antigua & Barbuda who lives in Surrey, in southeast England, lost a legal bid to sue one Roger Ver.
The UK's Court of Appeal ruled late last week that Wright cannot sue Ver because England & Wales is not "the most appropriate place" for the suit, upholding an earlier High Court finding that audiences on Twitter and YouTube for the vid were mainly in the US.
Ver, a Bitcoin speculator and maker of YouTube videos about it, published one on 15 April 2019 which said Wright "had fraudulently claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, that is to say the person, or one of the group of people, who developed Bitcoin," as the court put it.
Back when the wider world cared about such things, the identity of Bitcoin's pseudonymous creator, "Satoshi Nakamoto", was a hot topic. Wright seized the moment and told the BBC and Wired magazine that it was he. Others in the cryptocurrency community decided this was bollocks and so was born an ongoing soap opera-style tale of "he said, she said".
Once upon a time Wright and Ver were "trusted colleagues" of each other, the court heard. This ceased to be the case in November 2018 when the two came up with different visions for the future of Bitcoin. One was called Bitcoin ABC and the other Bitcoin SV. The difference between these was apparently so vast that Wright told Ver the latter was now his "enemy."
Upset by Ver's April 2019 YouTube video calling him a liar and fraud who posed as Bitcoin's real creator, Wright sued for libel. He hired a process server who caught Ver on a business trip to London and also a top barrister, Adam Wolanski QC. Ver struck back with Hugh Tomlinson QC; neither side was short of cash, it would seem.
Nonetheless, after a year of legal wrangling, Lord Justices Dingemans, Flaux and Popplewell threw out Wright's case. Lead judge Lord Justice Dingemans wrote:
...the evidence shows that there were about four times as many publications of the YouTube channel and tweets in the US as there were in the UK. This reflects Mr Ver's evidence to the effect that the reach of the YouTube Channel and Twitter account was centred on the United States. This evidence strongly suggests that a state in the US is likely to be the most appropriate jurisdiction in which to bring the claim.
Yesterday Ver published a YouTube video celebrating his victory and inviting Wright to pay him off in Bitcoin Cash.
Cautiously tiptoeing around the central thrust of the case, Lord Justice Dingemans also wrote in the judgment: "I should make it clear that this judgment does not address whether Dr Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto. This is because it was not an issue on the appeal." Presumably the learned Court of Appeal beak had taken a quick look at YouTube videos about Bitcoin and realised what a giant morass he would have stepped into.
Wright was previously ordered by an American court to hand over $5bn in bits and bytes to the estate of a former business partner and fellow Bitcoin speculator.
Some have said he is also the inventor of the inventor of Bitcoin. ®
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