Race to patent Bitcoin tech heats up
The man who claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin, is now working on filing patents for the currency, according to Reuters.
In a lengthy investigative report, Reuters says Craig Wright is “working with a fugitive online gambling entrepreneur to file scores of patents relating to the digital currency and its underlying technology, blockchain”.
As Banking Technology reported last year, Wright claimed to be Nakamoto. However, after intense media scrutiny, he backtracked and said he would not provide further proof to back up his claim. So after a lot of drama we are none the wiser as to who really is the creator.
No need to retell Reuters’ work in full detail, but in a nutshell Wright has the backing of Calvin Ayre, a wealthy Canadian entrepreneur, “according to people close to Wright and documents reviewed” by Reuters. Ayre has history – as he has been indicted in the US on charges of running online gambling operations that are illegal in many US states. He rejects this accusation.
Wright and his associates have filed more than 70 patent applications in the UK and have plans to file many more. These patents range from the storage of medical documents to Wi-Fi security. Neither Wright nor Ayre would comment on this development.
In last year’s interview with the BBC, when Wright was claiming to be Nakamoto, he said: “The Bitcoin blockchain can be scaled up to replace all existing payment system networks to become the world’s single global economic infrastructure.”
For many in the fintech world, this potential is common knowledge and the number of stories on our site reflect such interest. Just today (2 March), Japan edged towards blockchain commercialisation via a Ripple-powered pilot. We won’t link to all the stories we have published as there are far too many to mention.
While this Bitcoin patent race is interesting, let’s not forget there are other virtual currencies out there.
Last month, boffins developed a mathematical algorithm that could boost new cryptocurrency Zcash‘s prestige and topple Bitcoin’s crown.
Also, credit card specialist MBNA offered a useful guide to cryptocurrencies. Although there are 700 cryptocurrencies around today, only 12 or 13 are established enough to have a market capitalisation value – or total share value – over $10 million.
So while people may win the patent race for Bitcoin, it may not be the end of the story.
UPDATE: 27 December 2017
In terms of the charges against Ayre, he pleaded guilty in July to a misdemeanour charge. Ayre admitted to an accessory after the fact charge related to the transmission of gambling information in violation of the US federal Wire Act. Simultaneously, federal prosecutors dropped the felony charges they had filed against him.
According to Forbes, Ayre never came to the US to face the charges filed against him. Judge Catherine Blake sentenced Ayre to one year of unsupervised probation and a $500,000 fine. Ayre also agreed not to make any claim against $66 million that had mostly belonged to US-based gamblers and had been previously seized by federal prosecutors from payment processors in a forfeiture proceeding related to the case.