'Tremendous Victory' for Man Who Says He Invented Bitcoin

Business partner's family said Craig Wright owed them half of $50B fortune
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 7, 2021 8:32 PM CST
Man Who Says He Created Bitcoin Wins Court Case
Ira Kleiman arrives at the Federal Courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Miami.   (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Craig Wright, a computer scientist who claims to be the inventor of Bitcoin, prevailed in a civil trial verdict Monday against the family of a deceased business partner that claimed it was owed half of a cryptocurrency fortune worth tens of billions. A Florida jury found that Wright did not owe half of 1.1 million bitcoin to the family of David Kleiman. The jury did award $100 million in intellectual property rights to a joint venture between the two men, a fraction of what Kleiman's lawyers were asking for at trial. "This was a tremendous victory for our side," said Andres Rivero, the lead lawyer representing Wright. From the AP:

  • The background. David Kleiman died in April 2013 at the age of 46. Led by his brother Ira Kleiman, his family has claimed David Kleiman and Wright were close friends and co-created Bitcoin through a partnership.

  • A $50 billion fortune. At the center of the trial were 1.1 million bitcoin, worth approximately $50 billion based on Monday’s prices. These were among the first bitcoin to be created through mining and could only be owned by a person or entity involved with the digital currency from its beginning—such as Bitcoin's creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.
  • A highly technical case. The case tried in federal court in Miami was highly technical, with the jury listening to explanations of the intricate workings of cryptocurrencies as well as the murky origins of how Bitcoin came to be. Jurors took a full week to deliberate, repeatedly asking questions of lawyers on both sides as well as the judge on how cryptocurrencies work as well as the business relationship between the two men. At one point the jurors signaled to the judge that they were deadlocked.
  • Wright's next step. Now the cryptocurrency community will be looking to see if Wright follows through on his promise to prove he is the owner of the Bitcoin. Doing so would lend credence to Wright's claim, first made in 2016, that he is Nakamoto. Wright has said he plans to donate much of the Bitcoin fortune to charity if he were to win at trial.

  • Mysterious origins. Bitcoin’s origins have always been a bit of a mystery, which is why this trial has drawn so much attention from outsiders. In October 2008 during the height of the financial crisis, a person or group of people going by the name "Satoshi Nakamoto" published a paper laying out a framework for a digital currency that would not be tied to any legal or sovereign authority. Mining for the currency, which involves computers solving mathematical equations, began a few months later. The name Nakamoto, roughly translated from Japanese to mean "at the center of," was never considered to be the real name of Bitcoin’s creator.
  • Skepticism. Wright's claim that he is Nakamoto has been met with skepticism from a sizeable portion of the cryptocurrency community. Due to its structure, all transactions of bitcoin are public and the 1.1 million bitcoin in question have remained untouched since their creation. Members of the Bitcoin community have regularly called for Wright to move just a fraction of the coins into a separate account to prove ownership and show that he truly is as wealthy as he claims.
(More bitcoin stories.)

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