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Just under two weeks until the Satoshi Trial brought by COPA (Crypto Open Patent Alliance) is set to get underway, Dr. Craig Wright has issued a public, non-negotiable offer to settle the COPA case, his passing off claims against Coinbase and Kraken, and his database rights claim against BTC Core—an offer that would put an end to those litigations and prevent BTC, BCH and ABC from claiming to represent Satoshi Nakamoto’s original Bitcoin.

The settlement offer—if accepted by COPA, Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN), Kraken and the BTC Core defendants—involves Dr. Wright agreeing not to pursue any claim connected to his database rights and copyrights in the BTC, BCH, and ABC blockchains. These are the rights which arise from his invention and ownership of the Bitcoin blockchain, and would effectively conclude COPA v Wright (IL-2022-000019), Wright v Coinbase (IL-2022-000035), Wright v Payward (IL-2022-000036) and Wright v BTC Core (IL-2022-000069).

In return, his counterparties—which include the partnership of developers and entities that collectively make up BTC—must recognize that the original purpose of Bitcoin as ‘small casual transactions’ (as set out in the White Paper) and scaling on chain (as confirmed by writings made by Satoshi in 2008), and that BTC, BCH and ABC ‘now have separate purposes and uses not contemplated by Satoshi Nakamoto.’

They must also stop claiming that they represent the original Bitcoin as envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto, and “publicly acknowledge that the intended purpose for creating Bitcoin was to create a system to provide micropayments, to allow for the chronologically ordered validation of transactions and to facilitate scalability.”

Perhaps most significantly, the parties to the settlement (including Dr. Wright) must give undertakings that they will “ensure that Bitcoins shall be used for the benefit of humankind broadly and not to launder funds, evade tax, or assist in any other illicit behaviours.” They must also agree to use their best endeavours to comply with all national and international laws and regulations in force where they operate, “including any laws relating to money laundering, and anti-terrorist financing, or similar initiatives where exploiting and developing Bitcoins and its technology, and where required and possible, actively seek to create code to ensure compliance.”

They will also be unable to ‘create, copy, fork, or otherwise, a new Bitcoin database’, and must commit to using best endeavours to ensure no third party does the same.

It’s not about Satoshi—it’s about Bitcoin

It’s a sweeping offer, and from the perspective of a group of developers staring at the prospect of multiple millions of pounds in legal fees and (presumably) much harsher terms from Dr. Wright should he prevail in February’s trial, it might be considered a generous one.

Why, then, is Dr. Wright making it now? He makes his motivations clear in the settlement offer itself, saying that it is done in order to refocus his personal priorities, “which include (i) continuing to develop intellectual property for the benefit of blockchain technology and beyond, (ii) to ensure Bitcoin (in particular Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (“BSV”)) plays a key role in the development of payment infrastructure, and (iii) to spend more time with my family, amongst other things.”

In keeping with what Dr. Wright has repeatedly emphasized over the years, the settlement offer also says that he wants to “continue to be a force for good by encouraging the open commercialisation of technologies in a competitive and fair market where intellectual property rights are respected and exploited.”

“It is therefore my intention to ensure that the relevant Bitcoin Core (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and ABC Bitcoin (ABC) databases and assets can operate and compete fairly in parallel with BSV, which I hope can compete in the global community going forward,” reads the opening settlement.

In addition to the indications given in the settlement offer itself, Dr. Wright expands further in a press release shared with CoinGeek and posted to Dr. Wright’s personal blog:

“[T]he focus of my various litigations to date has never been on revealing my pseudonymous identity as Satoshi Nakamoto, but on mandating that Bitcoin remains faithful to its central principles. These are set out in the Bitcoin White Paper, today widely recognized as the authoritative foundation of all forms of Bitcoin: it describes a peer-to-peer electronic cash system, focusing on enabling small casual transactions (known as micro-payments) directly between parties, without the need for a financial intermediary.”

“This settlement offer preserves my objective of maintaining the integrity of the Bitcoin system as it was initially developed, while limited (for all parties) the needless expense of a lengthy High Court trial, which would take out collective focus away from supporting, adopting and advancing digital currency technologies – not just my own work, but those of potential good faith competitors (my legal opponents included).”

Taken together, the offer accords entirely with Dr. Wright’s public statements on his life work and ongoing litigation. It shouldn’t be forgotten that none of Dr. Wright’s litigation to date has been about ‘destroying’ anything—it has always been about enforcing the legal rights afforded to him as the inventor of Bitcoin in order to stop the name being used to mislead people into investing in unaffiliated products or worse, products which are intentionally designed to flout the law.

Ensuring that Bitcoin is not used to enable crime has been a particular sticking point for Dr. Wright, whose history as a trainer and consultant for law enforcement around the world is well documented. He has spoken in the past of entering a ‘deep abyss of despair’ after he saw, after handing Bitcoin over to caretakers, that it had begun to be used in the drug trade and other illegal use cases. As he put it in a blog post from February 2019:

“The first thing I found was Bitcoin being used in the dark web. I discovered the creation I had given birth to, something I designed to bring light was being used for all the worst reasons. Not only drugs, but people.”

One last chance

As for the timing of this offer—so close to the beginning of trial and after years of pre-trial skirmishing—it perhaps suggests a degree of confidence in the evidence that has been tabled on the part of Dr Wright. Presumably, such a settlement could have been agreed at any point in the previous months and years—but this is the first time such an offer could be made when both sides have had the opportunity to see all of the evidence that will appear in February’s trial. It wouldn’t be the first time the weight of the available evidence has caused one of Craig’s legal opponents to fold—just ask Peter McCormack.

Of course, there’s every possibility his counterparties reject the settlement, or are unable to come to a unanimous agreement to accept it (as seems to be required by the terms of the offer). Should that happen, then Dr. Wright appears ready and able to prove in a court of law that he is Satoshi Nakamoto. If that trial ends the way Dr. Wright expects, then it’s tough to imagine his legal adversaries getting nearly as generous terms as are now on the table.

The full settlement offer can be found here.

New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.

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