A lawsuit from Craig Wright that aims to have Bitcoin developers surrender crypto and modify code can go to court, Reuters reported Feb. 3.
Wright is suing 15 developers in an attempt to obtain 111,000 BTC worth $2.5 billion. Supposedly, Wright suffered a hack years ago, leading him to lose access to keys that would have allowed him to withdraw crypto from various addresses. (One of those addresses is believed to hold stolen funds related to the Mt. Gox hack, despite Wright’s assertions.)
If Wright wins the case, the developers could be required to write software patches that would help his company, Tulip Trading, recover the full amount.
Wright has been pursuing this action in the U.K. since at least February 2021. Though the case was dismissed last year, the U.K.’s Court of Appeal ruled today that developers may owe duties to owners of a blockchain. Judge Colin Birss said that Tulip has a “realistic argument” that crypto is entrusted to developers and that those developers may be required to introduce code that moves the owner’s Bitcoin to a safe location.
James Ramsden, the lawyer representing several developers appealing the case, said that his clients are “incredibly nervous.” In addition to possibly being made to pay money themselves, the outcome could also impact blockchain development on a broad scale.
Wright has had a tumultuous relationship with the cryptocurrency community due to his claims that he is Satoshi Nakamoto — the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin. He, nevertheless, has been involved with Bitcoin from an early and has managed to leverage that role in various legal cases. He has had certain victories in copyright cases, as well as technical wins and non-final losses in defamation cases.