Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist who has sometimes claimed to be Bitcoin (BTC) creator Satoshi Nakamoto, has reportedly applied for a slew of blockchain-related patents since 2017. Tech news site The Next Web (TNW) published its research regarding Wright’s patent filings on March 18.
TNW reports that, since August 2017, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has published 155 patent applications filed by Wright. As with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the WIPO publishes patent applications to notify the public that there is a potential new technology in a certain industry or space.
Wright will only receive proprietary control over the patents’ contents if they are formally awarded by the WIPO. Per TNW, whether the WIPO awards a patent is dependent on if the office deems it sufficiently innovative.
TNW states that the term “blockchain” was used in patent titles 114 times, while “cryptocurrency” was only mentioned six times and “Bitcoin” was never mentioned. References were also made to smart contracts and digital assets.
Some have argued that Wright is a “patent troll” who is attempting to amass blockchain-related patents not to use them, but to extract rents from companies that want to apply the technology. Marc Kaufman, an attorney who co-chairs the Blockchain Intellectual Property Council at the U.S. Chamber of Digital Commerce, told Fortune:
“His tactics and activities have all the marks of being a patent assertion entity or what’s pejoratively known as a troll. I’m not aware of his companies having any products.”
Last year, Wright was sued for $4 billion when the estate of David Kleiman — a computer scientist and cyber-security expert, whom many suspect to have been one of the developers behind Bitcoin and blockchain tech — claimed that Wright stole billions of dollars worth of Bitcoin.
According to the plaintiffs, Wright recognized that the family were unaware of Kleiman’s wealth and “forged a series of contracts that purported to transfer Dave’s assets to Craig and/or companies controlled by him. Craig backdated these contracts and forged Dave’s signature on them.”
In a recent development in the case, software engineer and Bitcoin pioneer Jeff Garzik was subpoenaed by a U.S. District Court. The subpoena calls Garzik to appear in court and with any evidence regarding the “personal theory” that Kleiman was Satoshi Nakamoto. The subpoena also orders Garzik to provide all communications, agreements and documents related to both Wright and Kleiman.