Ontier LLP, the law firm representing entrepreneur Craig Wright’s Tulip Trading Limited (TTL), has been given the green light by a London High Court to serve papers on 16 Bitcoin-related developers in a fight over funds from the defunct Mt. Gox exchange.
The Business and Property Courts of the High Court in London gave Ontier, and therefore Wright, permission to serve the developers of BTC, BCH, BCH ABC and BSV, even though they don’t reside in the U.K.
The actions stem from Wright’s claim that he owns billions of dollars worth of bitcoin connected to the Mt. Gox hack. The wallet (1FeexV6bAHb8ybZjqQMjJrcCrHGW9sb6uF) is connected to the hack that drained 800,000 BTC from the world’s then-most popular bitcoin exchange in 2014. Wright claims the keys to the wallets holding that bitcoin were stolen from him last year.
The defendants are the Bitcoin Association for BSV, Wladimir Van Der Laan, Jonas Schnelli, Pieter Wuille, Marco Falke, Samuel Dobson, Michael Ford, Cory Fields, George Dombrowski, Matthew Corallo, Peter Todd, Gregory Maxwell, Eric Lombrozo, Roger Ver, Amaury Sechet and Jason Cox.
“Tulip Trading is, purely and simply, a victim of theft,” said Wright’s lawyers in a statement. And they are expecting developers to take steps to restore the lost funds.
As detailed in the Particulars of Claim, TTL is “requesting that the individual developers enable TTL to regain access to and control of its bitcoin on the grounds that they, the developers, owe bitcoin owners both tortious and fiduciary duties under English law as a result of the high level of power and control they hold over their respective blockchains,” according to the lawyers.
“The fact that someone has stolen Tulip Trading’s digitally held, encrypted private bitcoin keys does not prevent developers from deploying code to enable the rightful owner to regain control of its bitcoin.”
The lawyers’ statement suggests that named developers could issue some unspecified form of code to allow Wright to gain control of the funds.
How that would be executed is unclear, and whether any nodes would accept such a deployment is even less so. To do so would likely involve creating a forked coin which, not unlike others before it, would be a different coin from bitcoin. Wright would then have to convince people to use it for it to have market value.
Further complicating the case, a law firm representing Danny Brewster, who lost funds in the Mt. Gox hack that ended up in the infamous 1Feex wallet, previously sent a letter that they might take legal action to claim any coins recovered from that wallet on behalf of victims of the Mt. Gox hack. Thus, even if Wright were to somehow succeed in recovering access to the wallets, he may not be able to keep the funds they hold.
Wright has also sued various entities, including Bitcoin Core developers, for hosting the Bitcoin white paper, insisting that he is the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, and therefore has a copyright claim to the white paper. Wright is currently facing a legal challenge from the Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance, an industry group, regarding these claims.