British high court rules Australian computer scientist not mysterious bitcoin founder as he claims

LONDON — Britain’s high court ruled Thursday that an Australian computer scientist is not, as he claimed, the mysterious creator of the bitcoin cryptocurrency.

Craig Wright has for eight years claimed that he was the man behind “Satoshi Nakamoto,” the pseudonym that masked the identity of the creator of bitcoin.

His claim was dismissed by Justice James Mellor following a trial brought forward by the Crypto Open Patent Alliance, a non-profit group of technology and cryptocurrency firms.

The organization claimed Wright had created an “elaborate false narrative” and forged documents to suggest he was Satoshi and had “terrorized” those who questioned him.

Wright, who attended the start of the five-week trial, denied the allegations.

At stake was not just bragging rights to the creation of bitcoin, the world’s most popular virtual currency, but control of the intellectual property rights.

Wright has used his claim as bitcoin’s inventor to file litigation to drive developers away from further developing the open-source technology, the alliance claimed in their lawsuit. The ruling will clearly impact three pending lawsuits that Wright has filed based on his claim to having the intellectual property rights to bitcoin.

The murky origins of bitcoin date to the height of the financial crisis in 2008. A paper authored by a person or group using the Nakamoto pen name explained how digital currency could be sent around the world anonymously, without banks or national currencies. Nakamoto seemed to vanish three years later.

Speculation on the true identity swirled for years and the names of several candidates had emerged when Wright first surfaced to claim the identity in 2016 only to quickly return to the shadows, saying he didn’t “have the courage” to provide more proof.

Bitcoin is the world’s most high-profile digital currency, and like others is not tied to any bank or government. Like cash, it allows users to spend and receive money anonymously, or mostly so. It can be converted to cash when deposited into accounts at prices set in online trading.

Supporters say it can be more trustworthy than traditional money, which can be vulnerable to the whims of those in power. Skeptics say their volatility has introduced a potential new risk to the global financial system, and fret about their potential to promote illicit activities and introduce uncertainty.

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