Court rules for Roger Ver in Craig Wright’s Satoshi defamation lawsuit
Bitcoin SV creator Craig Wright claimed that he created Bitcoin as Satoshi Nakamoto—Bitcoin Cash founder Roger Ver called him a fraud.
Bitcoin SV creator Craig Wright claimed that he created Bitcoin as Satoshi Nakamoto—Bitcoin Cash founder Roger Ver called him a fraud. The two took the matter to court, and today, England’s high court ruled in favor of Ver.
Craig Wright’s litigious rampage
In April, Craig Wright invoked the wrath of the Bitcoin community by threatening legal action against a host of people claiming he was a fraud (for claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto).
The incident began with Hodlonaut, the founder of the Lightning Network Trust Chain and a longstanding Bitcoin advocate. The astronautical feline denounced Wright as a fraud, and in response Craig Wright threatened legal action.
Wright’s legal threat enraged the Bitcoin community, with many rallying behind Hodlonaut. Many in the community performed acts of solidarity, such as changing their profile picture and Twitter handles to match Hodlonaut’s to obfuscate the cat’s identity.
Other high-profile crypto advocates also solidified their positions, publicly calling Craig Wright a fraud for his unsubstantiated claims of being the person behind the Satoshi Nakamoto alias. Figures such as Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, podcaster Peter McCormack, and hundreds of others called Wright a fraud.
One other figurehead who called Wright a fraud was his former partner, the founder of Bitcoin Cash Roger Ver. Previously, the two had a falling out that resulted in a split that created Bitcoin SV during the famous hash wars.
On Apr. 15, 2019, Roger Ver’s website Bitcoin.com posted (a now redacted) video, which in short, said Craig Wright fraudulently claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto. Ver went a step further, publicly calling Wright a fraud on his personal Twitter on May 3, and goading Wright to sue him.
My response to CSW’s 100,000 GBP lawsuit: pic.twitter.com/Ob1WZITrM3
— Roger Ver (@rogerkver) May 3, 2019
Taking the matter to court
In response to the message, the Bitcoin SV founder took the matter to the England and Wales High Court, Queen’s Bench Division. Wright claimed that his reputation was materially damaged by Roger Ver’s defamatory statements.
“The defamatory attacks by Roger Ver damaged my integrity within the United Kingdom’s community of business people with whom I primarily deal. Being labelled a fraud has a repellent effect with regard to future business—if people view me as a fraud, my proficiency as a computer scientist as well as my life’s work will be called into question. Moreover, no one would reasonably enter into business dealings with someone thought to be a fraud,” said Wright in the court documents.
In addition to Ver’s supposedly defamatory remarks, Wright claims that it encouraged others to participate in damaging remarks, citing one tweet in particular.
— BkkShadow (@BkkShadow) May 3, 2019
Taking the trial to the United States
However, the British court determined that the U.K. was not the appropriate venue for the lawsuit. Based on the audience of the Bitcoin youTube Channel and Roger Ver’s Twitter account, the overwhelming majority of viewers were based in the United States, followed by the United Kingdom.
Even though Craig Wright had moved from Australia to the U.K. with his family in 2015, and intends to apply for British citizenship, the court deemed that Wright had a “global” reputation in line with the global nature of Bitcoin.
Instead, the statements from the judge may suggest that the U.S. would be a more appropriate place to decide the lawsuit. Roger Ver consented to taking the lawsuit to the United States, said the court documents. CryptoSlate reached out to Roger Ver for comment on the matter and has yet to receive a response.
Little evidence that Craig Wright’s reputation was damaged
The judge also stated there Craig Wright did not sufficiently prove his reputation was harmed. As Roger Ver’s counsel aptly argued:
“Specifically, there is no evidence at all of any actual reputational harm that the Claimant [Wright] has suffered as a result of any of the Defendant’s [Ver’s] publications.”
The judge more or less agreed with the counsel’s statement.
“There is no objective evidence of any harm to reputation in England and Wales. The Claimant [Wright] has failed completely to address whether and to what extent the publications complained of have harmed his reputation in other jurisdictions. The evidence demonstrates clearly that the Claimant enjoys a global reputation, the vast majority of which was generated before he moved to the UK. It is impossible for the Claimant to divide his reputation into neat jurisdictions; it is clearly global.”
And, more conclusively from the judge:
“In my judgment, the Claimant’s evidence as to the extent of harm that the publications have caused (or are likely to cause) is weak, lacks detail and [Craig Wright’s claims] put forward evidence at a level of generality that is almost entirely speculative.”
Craig Wright is engaged in several other lawsuits hinging around his supposed status as Satoshi Nakamoto. Based on the evidence so far, it seems unlikely that these cases will go in Wright’s favor until he can conclusively prove he is not fraudulently claiming to be Satoshi.