London, 27 February 2023:
Today in the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda, Dr Craig Wright, the inventor of Bitcoin - the world’s first functioning and successful electronic cash system – was granted permission to continue his defamation proceedings against Bitcoin Cash (BCH) proponent, Roger Ver in the jurisdiction.
Both Dr Wright and Mr Ver are Antiguan citizens, and Mr Ver has a home in Antigua. Dr Wright is a computer scientist who created Bitcoin. Mr Ver is a prolific commentator in the Bitcoin community and has invested in a number of digital asset start-ups, blockchain businesses and associated companies, including Bitpay.com and Kraken.com. He also owns and operates the website Bitcoin.com.
Dr Wright claims Mr Ver defamed him in his YouTube video in April 2019 by publishing: “Craig Wright is a liar and a fraud. So sue me. Again.” In May 2019, Mr Ver published another video which included the same message, in response to the commencement of libel proceedings in England by Dr Wright against Mr Ver. This publication also forms part of Dr Wright’s Antiguan defamation claim, alongside two tweets published on 3 May 2019 and 11 June 2019 respectively.
The blockchain is the technology that enables the existence of cryptocurrency. It is a decentralized ledger of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network. Using this technology, participants can confirm and make transactions without a need for a central clearing authority, such as a bank. For this reason, trust and confidence are crucial in this industry. Dr Wright is concerned that Mr Ver’s publications sought to undermine trust and confidence in Dr Wright and by extension the electronic cash system and blockchain network which he created Bitcoin, now referred to as Bitcoin Satoshi Vision.
Mr Ver challenged Dr Wright’s claim brought against him in Antigua on jurisdictional grounds but was defeated.
Dr Wright says:
“I’m pleased we’re now proceeding with this claim as Ver has been hiding behind jurisdictional challenges for years now as he tries to avoid responsibility for his actions. I look forward to the court finding his campaign against me is wrong and defamatory, causing significant damage to my reputation. He backed the wrong horse.”
Derek Stinson of ONTIER LLP says:
“Dr Wright should not be subjected to a defamatory campaign by anyone. Roger Ver defamed Dr Wright and seeks to avoid responsibility for his social media publications – this time on a hopeless procedural challenge. He should abandon his campaign to undermine Dr Wright and publicly state the truth, Dr Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin.”
Jurisdiction Application heard before Justice Robertson
Legal Advisors: Dr Wright is represented by Dr Errol Cort of Cort & Cort and Anthony Astaphan SC in Antigua and Barbuda, and by Derek Stinson, James Dixon and Simon Cohen of ONTIER LLP in London as co-counsel.
Issued on behalf of ONTIER LLP by: Bell Yard Communications / BellYard@bell-yard.com
Louise Beeson / +44 (0)7768 956997 / firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES TO EDITORS
Mr Ver brought an application to challenge jurisdiction to the Antigua and Barbuda High Court in October 2020. This followed a defamation claim by Dr Wright in Antigua, whose original English Court proceedings were eventually barred by jurisdiction.
Today’s successful jurisdiction judgment is the latest outcome in a series of legal claims issued by ONTIER LLP, on behalf of Dr Wright and his associated entities, to uphold his right to protect his lawfully-held digital assets, his reputation as the creator of Bitcoin and his associated intellectual property:
In 2020, ONTIER began defamation proceedings in London on behalf of Dr Wright against podcaster Peter McCormack. In 2021, following extensive disclosure by Dr Wright, McCormack was compelled to drop his reliance on a truth defence in the libel claim, leaving only the issue of serious harm caused to Dr Wright by McCormack’s tweets. The judge ruled that McCormack’s statements were defamatory of Dr Wright but awarded nominal damages. Permission to appeal this aspect of the judgment is currently being sought.
In 2021 ONTIER successfully brought a copyright claim in England against the anonymous digital currency enthusiast operating under the pseudonym “Cøbra”.
ONTIER defeated a strike-out attempt by digital currency enthusiast, Magnus Granath, following Dr Wright’s defamation action, the trial of which will heard by the English High Court in late 2023.
Dr Wright was recently granted permission to appeal the Norwegian Court’s finding that permitted Mr Granath’s statements under Norwegian law.
ONTIER is also pursuing a landmark claim against the developers of BTC, BCH and BCH ABC to restore control of addresses containing Bitcoin and other digital assets. The defendants’ jurisdictional challenge to this claim is currently being appealed by the claimant, Tulip Trading Ltd.
ONTIER is currently advising companies connected with Dr Wright in their passing off claims against exchanges Kraken and Coinbase, filed in the High Court earlier this year.
Dr Wright is also advised by ONTIER on his defence to the Crypto Open Patent Alliance’s (COPA) challenge to Dr Wright’s authorship of the Bitcoin White Paper, which will be heard by the English court in 2024.