The Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) announced it has filed a lawsuit in the High Court of Justice in England and Wales, to declare that Dr. Craig S. Wright is not the author of the 2008 Bitcoin white paper. But rather than putting a stop to Dr. Wright’s claims as some hope, could it instead give Wright a chance to prove himself as Satoshi in court?
“We stand in support of the Bitcoin developer community and the many others who’ve been threatened for hosting the White Paper,” COPA wrote in a Twitter post earlier.
Today, COPA initiated a lawsuit asking the UK High Court to declare that Mr. Craig Wright does not have copyright ownership over the Bitcoin White Paper. We stand in support of the Bitcoin developer community and the many others who’ve been threatened for hosting the White Paper. pic.twitter.com/QNDEq3H6Oq
— COPA (@opencryptoorg) April 12, 2021
COPA (sometimes also called the “Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance”) is a non-profit IP-pooling group formed by Jack Dorsey’s Square in September 2020. Its stated aim is to prevent “patent lockup” by companies claiming ownership of key blockchain-related concepts, that “stifle innovation.”
Coinbase joined Square as a COPA founding board member in December 2020. Other members include Kraken, SatoshiLabs, BitPay, BitBank, (Michael Saylor’s) MicroStrategy, and Blockstream. It also includes Paradigm, an investment fund founded by Sequoia Capital partner Matt Huang and Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam.
After joining, COPA members are required to remain members for three years. Joining the alliance entitles a member to access the Shared Patent Library of foundational crypto patents (subject first to the approval of whoever holds the IP on a particular technology).
COPA members like Square, Coinbase and Blockstream have a clear financial interest in promoting the narrative that BTC (and not BSV) represents the “real Bitcoin.” Coinbase is also facing an upcoming IPO, and the intellectual property it owns would play a key role in valuing the company in its prospectus. Coinbase is noting that Dr. Wright’s identity as Satoshi Nakamoto is a key risk to their IPO and valuation. However, they are trying to sweep this under the rug and are hardly mentioning any of the cases. In downplaying this, they are potentially breaching some securities regulations and this could leave the directors of the company liable.
Disassociating the myth of “Satoshi Nakamoto” from the man Craig Wright is central to this narrative, given that Dr. Wright claims BTC Core developers have radically changed the original Bitcoin protocol, and are “spreading false propaganda” about its capabilities and purported limitations. Supporting BTC could potentially end up costing Coinbase billions of dollars, and the company’s entire value may be consumed in subsequent action—which could be why they want to promote the false status of BTC. Coinbase’s SEC filings highlight not only why the company needs BTC to succeed, but also why Satoshi’s identity is a risk to their business and that the IP rights of others and infringement claims against them may hinder their success.
BSV (Bitcoin SV) developers restored the Bitcoin Protocol to its original form and original transaction processing rules in January-February 2020. In this sense, only BSV represents Bitcoin and Bitcoin as it was originally promoted to the public. BTC does not follow the original protocol rules, and is thus not actually Bitcoin. BTC may have the “longest chain” as it often claims, but that chain is not Bitcoin’s.
Background to the copyright claim and reactions
Dr. Wright registered copyright in the U.S. to the 2008 Bitcoin White Paper in May 2019, and, earlier this year, began to take legal action against sites and organizations that host the 2008 Bitcoin white paper without his consent. One of the groups targeted was Square’s blockchain development subsidiary, Square Crypto, which…