The decision sets the stage for a lawsuit over whether developers owe duties to owners of digital assets – which a lawyer representing some developers says could pose a fundamental challenge to decentralized finance if Craig Wright wins.
🚨🚨Craig Wright wins in the Court of Appeal 🚨🚨 https://t.co/MBBoGX9UNJ
Australian computer scientist Craig Wright is suing 15 developers in a bid to recover about 111,000 bitcoins – currently worth about $2.5 billion – after losing the encrypted keys to access them when his home computer network was allegedly hacked.
Craig Wright’s Seychelles-based company, Tulip Trading, has filed a lawsuit against the developers of three networks, arguing that they are required to write software patches to help Tulip recover bitcoins.
Tulip’s suit was dismissed last year, but the Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the developers likely have obligations to the owners, which would have to be determined at a full trial.
Judge Colin Birss said Tulip had a realistic argument that the crypto-currency is “entrusted“to network developers, who might therefore have an obligation, for example,”to introduce code so that an owner’s bitcoin can be transferred securely“.
Craig Wright claims to have written the bitcoin white paper that first exposed the technology behind the digital assets under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, but this claim is hotly contested.
He said in a statement that he was delighted with the decision.
His lawyer, Felicity Potter, said the decision was “a step forward toward a properly regulated and well-governed digital asset ecosystem that should be welcomed by potential and current coin holders“.
James Ramsden, an attorney who represented 13 of the 14 developers involved in the appeal, told Reuters that the code writers are “incredibly nervous” about the case, which could leave them liable for massive amounts of money if Wright wins.
He added that the outcome of any trial will affect “all aspects of (decentralized finance), whether it involves tokens of value or NFTs (non-fungible tokens) or the broader blockchain system“.