‘Lies and forged documents’ – UK judge skewers computer scientist’s claim he invented bitcoin system

Mr Justice Mellor ‘entirely satisfied’ Craig Wright ‘lied to the court extensively and repeatedly’
The High Court in London

The High Court Shutterstock

Mr Justice Mellor pulled no punches when delivering his written judgment in Crypto Open Patent Alliance v Craig Steven Wright yesterday (20 May) detailing the findings of why Australian computer scientist Craig Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of the bitcoin system.

In the 231-page ruling, Mellor skewers Craig’s claims that he wrote and published the first version of the bitcoin white paper in October 2008, he wrote and released the first version of the bitcoin source code and he created the bitcoin system.

The Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), a non-profit industry group representing bitcoin developers who had been targeted by Wright, launched the claim against Wright in 2021; Wright had threatened to enforce intellectual property rights against multiple groups as founder of the bitcoin system. 

In the written judgment, Mellor noted: “I am entirely satisfied that Dr Wright lied to the court extensively and repeatedly… All his lies and forged documents were in support of his biggest lie: his claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto.”

“Dr Wright presents himself as an extremely clever person. However, in my judgment, he is not nearly as clever as he thinks he is,” the judge noted.

Mellor added in the scathing judgment that he did not believe that Satoshi would ever have “resorted to forgery in his attempt to prove he was Satoshi. He would not have backdated documents or altered the clock on his computer(s), for the simple reason that there was and is no need for him to do so.”

Satoshi would not have engaged in “yet more forgery or engaged in technobabble in his attempts to justify it”.

In March, after closing submissions, Mellor delivered the initial ruling that Wright was not Satoshi. The written judgment from 20 May details his reasoning. He also said that in his “personal opinion” Satoshi is likely to be a group of people.

On X (formerly Twitter), Wright said that he would appeal the decision of the court on the matter of the identity issue, while thanking all his supporters “for their unwavering encouragement and support”. 

Mellor said that counsel for Wright had put forward the best case which could possibly be presented for Wright in their written and oral closing submissions, constrained as they were by the “evidence I heard in this trial”.

Commenting on the ruling, COPA said on X that it was “the result of a concerted and united effort across the entire open source community – from developers, to those who selflessly contributed to funding this important case”.

Emma Kennaugh-Gallacher, a professional support lawyer for IP firm Mewburn Ellis said the “damning” ruling meant that Wright would be unable to claim that other bitcoin developers had infringed his copyright in those works in the UK.

But she pointed out: “The judgment specifically relates to the jurisdiction of England and Wales. This means that it won’t prevent Mr Wright from bringing actions against bitcoin developers in other jurisdictions – but it’s likely that this decision would be considered persuasive in any of those proceedings.”

Mellor has deferred issues of injunctive relief “so it will be interesting to see what the exact terms of that order are going to be”, she added.

4 New Square Chambers’ Jonathan Hough KC and Jonathan Moss of Hogarth Chambers acted for COPA and were instructed by Bird & Bird (Phil Sherrell, Tristan Sherliker, Ning-Ning Li and Will Wortley).

Craig Wright was represented by One Essex Court’s Lord Grabiner KC, Craig Orr KC, Tim Goldfarb, Mehdi Baiou and Twenty Essex’s Richard Greenberg, instructed by Shoosmiths.

A group of bitcoin developers were represented by One Essex Court’s Alex Gunning KC and 8 New Square’s Beth Collett, instructed by Macfarlanes.


Since 2016, Wright had been making his claim to be Satoshi. He had asserted intellectual property rights against numerous individuals and companies working on the development of bitcoin and cryptocurrency technology.

In February 2020, Wright published a blog entitled “Forking and Passing Off” in which he asserted his claim to be “the sole creator of bitcoin” and evinced an intention to enforce claimed intellectual property rights.

In February 2021, disputes specialists SCA Ontier, the solicitors then acting for Wright, wrote to Bird & Bird (the solicitors for COPA) indicating that Wright did not consent to COPA or its members using the bitcoin white paper and asking that both COPA and its members remove the bitcoin white paper from their respective websites and social media account. COPA commenced its action in April 2021.

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