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‘Several hundred billion’ at stake in bitcoin case

By Michael Cross >>

(4 May 2022)

An intellectual property claim brought against two digital currency exchanges by the man claiming to be the inventor of the bitcoin cryptocurrency could be the largest ever seen in the English courts, it emerged today. The claims brought by Dr Craig Wright against Kraken and Coinbase ‘are likely to be worth several hundred billions of pounds’, a spokesperson for Wright’s solicitors said today. 

The claim is the latest in a wave of litigation brought in the London courts by Wright, an Australian computer scientist resident in Britain. It arises from a bitter civil war which arose from a so-called ‘hard fork’ split in the bitcoin blockchain – the chain of encryption which validates the currency – in 2018.  Wright, and two companies associated with him, accuse Kraken and Coinbase of passing off a product known as ‘Bitcoin Core’ (BTC) as bitcoin. Wright maintains that the only product which remains true to the original 2008 bitcoin protocol is  ’Bitcoin Satoshi Vision’ (BSV).

The claimants contend that this misrepresentation by Coinbase and Kraken has led to confusion among digital currency asset holders as to the authenticity of the assets many have purchased and traded in. They seek an injunction restraining the defendants from promoting BTC as bitcoin. 

Proceedings were filed last week in the Intellectual Property List of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales, though neither defendant is in the jurisdiction.  

Wright’s solicitor, Simon Cohen of London firm Ontier, said: ‘These actions are undoubtedly game changing for the digital asset market. Simply put, the claimants’ assertion is if your digital asset doesn’t strictly adhere to the bitcoin protocol and is linked to the bitcoin blockchain it is not bitcoin, and should not be marketed or referenced as such.

‘While this is quite likely the highest value claim to have ever come before the English courts, in fact the arguments in support of our clients’ position are straightforward and verifiable.’ 

Another legal action brought by Wright, a defamation claim against bitcoin commentator Peter McCormack, is due to be heard in London later this month. 

Wright is meanwhile appealing a jurisdiction ruling in a claim against several bitcoin developers to restore access to several billion pounds in cryptoassets.

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)