Hangzhou Internet Court: Individuals holding "bitcoin" should be identified as virtual property

Hangzhou Internet Court: Individuals holding "bitcoin" should be identified as virtual property

Five years ago, Wu bought 2.675 bitcoins from Taobao spent nearly 20,000 yuan on the "FXBTC" website operated by a technology company in Shanghai. After that, he forgot about it until May 2017, when he wants to log in again. The "FXBTC" website found that the website was closed and the website operator could not be contacted.

Wu believes that when the website was closed, a technology company in Shanghai did not give any hints to it. This inaction did not lead to the recovery of the bitcoin it bought, which caused huge economic losses. At the same time, Internet virtual currency such as Bitcoin and Litecoin and related commodities were banned from Taobao. Taobao did not fulfill its audit obligation, which caused it to buy prohibited goods on Taobao and suffered losses. Therefore, Wu’s paper complaint filed a Shanghai technology company and Taobao company on the court, demanding that the two defendants (a Shanghai technology company and Taobao company) bear joint compensation for the loss of 76,314 yuan (the transaction price of 2.675 bitcoins at the time of prosecution). responsibility.

On May 22 this year, the Hangzhou Internet Court heard the case. Due to the particularity of the disputed item "bitcoin" in the case, this became the first case of the Internet Court of Hangzhou involving the bitcoin network property infringement dispute.

On July 18, the media learned from the Hangzhou Internet Court that on the 18th, the court made a first-instance judgment on this network property infringement dispute.

The court held that the plaintiff could not prove that the actual implementation of the infringement of the case claimed that the Shanghai technology company and its Taobao consumer store account had the same identity, and it could not prove that Taobao had obvious illegal and infringement in the transaction center. Bear the legal consequences of not being able to prove.

In the end, Hangzhou Internet found that the plaintiff had insufficient basis for claiming tort liability to a defendant Shanghai technology company and Taobao Company, and rejected all plaintiff claims.

The court found that

Although the plaintiff claimed that it paid RMB 19,920 to the defendant Shanghai Technology Company for the purchase of Bitcoin, the direct collection of the money was the Alipay account of the shopkeeper Huang’s store. The unilateral description of the shop alone was not enough to identify the defendant as Shanghai. The “official” recharge of a technology company is not enough to presume the identity of the main business owner of the store and the main body of the website; and the plaintiff has obtained the recharge code of the website involved, whether there is a corresponding website account, and the above payment after the payment of 19,920 yuan. Whether it has actually recharged the website and whether the plaintiff actually obtained the corresponding bitcoin share did not provide any evidence to prove it. According to the principle of proof of who advocates who is giving evidence, the plaintiff should bear the legal consequences of the inability to prove.

Regarding the plaintiff’s claim that Taobao Company bears joint and several liability, there is no obvious illegal or infringing situation in the case of the commodity information involved in the case. The plaintiff has not submitted any evidence to prove that it has given any notice to the defendant Taobao Company in this case. The defendant Taobao Company is not involved in the case. The counterparty of the transaction or the perpetrator of the infringement of the transaction does not know whether it is known or should be aware of the existence of the infringement and does not take timely measures. After the plaintiff’s request, it has also disclosed the certification information of the party involved in the transaction in a timely manner, and therefore does not constitute infringement. .

However, it is worth noting that in this case, although the plaintiff’s claim was rejected by the court, the Internet court in this case affirmed the legal status of “bitcoin” as a virtual property.

The Institute believes that Bitcoin has the value, scarcity and disposableness of property as a subject of rights and should be recognized as its virtual property status. But this does not mean that it has the legal status of the so-called currency and the value attribute of the currency.

According to the official approval of the People's Bank of China and other ministries, "virtual currency" such as bitcoin does not have the legal status of money. The court ruled that it only confirmed the status of Bitcoin as a specific network virtual commodity.

The Hangzhou Internet Court held that, from the perspective of the constituent elements of property, first of all, Bitcoin possesses the economic or value of property. Bitcoin’s process of “mining” and “mining” and the acquisition of labor products have condensed the abstract human labor. It can be used as a consideration for price transfer, transaction, income generation, and property that the holder actually enjoys in real life, with use value and exchange value;

Secondly, Bitcoin has the scarcity of property, its total amount is constant at 21 million, and supply is limited. As a resource, its acquisition is difficult and cannot be obtained at will;

Finally, Bitcoin has the exclusive and disposable nature of property. As a property, it has clear boundaries and content and can be transferred and separated. Its holders can possess, use and earn income from Bitcoin. In summary, "tokens" such as Bitcoin or "virtual currency" are in line with the constituent elements of virtual property. Although they do not have the legality of money, they should be affirmed as virtual property, commodity attributes and corresponding property rights. (澎湃News)

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