Jack Dorsey says he is planning a nonprofit aimed at paying the legal bills of Bitcoin developers who were sued by an Australian computer scientist who claims to be the founder of the popular cryptocurrency.
The former Twitter CEO sent an email on Wednesday to a mailing list of cryptocurrency creators announcing the creation of the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund.
The nonprofit will pit Dorsey’s financial muscle against the litigious Craig Wright, who has targeted a number of crypto developers in the so-called Tulip Trading lawsuit.
Last spring, Wright filed suit in a London court alleging that 16 software developers refused to help him retrieve 111,000 bitcoins that he claims rightfully belong to him.
Wright accused the developers of denying him the private keys to access the currency, which today is worth some $4.8 billion. On Thursday, Bitcoin was trading at $43,183.60.
Wright has claimed he was part of the team behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious figure who is credited with developing Bitcoin more than a decade ago. He also has insisted that he is the owner of 1.1 million Bitcoin, which would put his net worth somewhere at around $47.5 billion.
The crypto community has largely dismissed Wright’s claims.
Wright’s case is being brought against the developers of four networks — Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV), Bitcoin Core (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin Cash ABC (ABC) — at addresses in continental Europe, the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
The developers said Wright had failed to prove ownership of the currency.
Dorsey, who is now CEO of Block, formerly known as Square, wrote in his email on Wednesday: “The Bitcoin community is currently the subject of multi-front litigation” that has compelled some developers to “capitulate in the absence of legal support.”
“The main purpose of this Fund is to defend developers from lawsuits regarding their activities in the Bitcoin ecosystem, including finding and retaining defense counsel, developing litigation strategy, and paying legal bills,” Dorsey wrote.
“This is a free and voluntary option for developers to take advantage of if they so wish.”
In his legal filing, Wright claimed that he lost the encrypted keys when his home computer network was hacked in February 2020, according to Reuters.
“Our client has always maintained that he created bitcoin to operate within existing laws and that in the event of loss or theft, where legitimate ownership can be proven, the developers have a duty to ensure recovery,” said Wright’s lawyer, Paul Ferguson.
In October, Dorsey’s digital payments company announced that it was investing $50 million in Bitcoin.
At the time, the company said it made the investment because it “believes that cryptocurrency is an instrument of economic empowerment and provides a way for the world to participate in a global monetary system.”
In late November, Dorsey announced that he was stepping down as CEO of Twitter. He was replaced by his hand-picked successor, Parag Agrawal.
Last month, Wright prevailed in a Florida court after the family of his former business partner, the late David Kleiman, sued him for half of the 1.1 million Bitcoin fortune.
The Kleiman family argued that since David was a co-creator of the cryptocurrency alongside Wright, they were entitled to half of the amassed wealth.
A federal jury ruled in Wright’s favor, though he was ordered to pay $100 million in compensation for a breach in intellectual property rights.
Kleiman and Wright formed a joint venture known as W&K Info Defense Research LLC. The $100 million in damages will be paid to the company, not the Kleiman family.
Bitcoin started in 2008 after Nakamoto published an open-source paper introducing a new form of digital currency that was designed to be used without the need for a central bank. Its initial worth was less than a penny.
During the first several years of Bitcoin, Nakamoto communicated regularly with a small group of crypto obsessives, via email and various message boards, but never on the telephone or in person.
Then, on April 26, 2011, Nakamoto disappeared — posting a farewell message to the community that concluded, “I’ve moved on to other things” — and has not been definitively heard from since.
Things were quiet for the next four years. In May 2016, Wright came forward to declare that he was in fact Nakamoto, but he has not offered up definitive proof to support the claim.