Craig Wright wins dispute over $50 billion in bitcoin, but identity of bitcoin’s founder still unproven

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NEW YORK — Craig Wright, a computer scientist who claims to be the inventor of bitcoin, won a civil trial ruling against the family of a deceased business partner on Monday who claimed he held half of cryptocurrency assets worth tens of billions. is due.

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A Florida jury found that Wright did not owe half of the 1.1 million bitcoins to David Kleiman’s family. The jury awarded $100 million in intellectual property rights to a joint venture between the two men, which Kleiman’s lawyers were seeking in the lawsuit.

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“It was a tremendous victory for our side,” said Andres Rivero of Rivero Mestre LLP, the lead attorney representing Wright.

David Kleiman died in April 2013 at the age of 46. Led by his brother Ira Kleiman, his family has claimed that David Kleiman and Wright were close friends and co-created the bitcoin BTCUSD,
+0.37%
through a partnership.

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At the center of the test were 1.1 million bitcoins, worth around $50 billion based on Monday’s prices. These were among the first bitcoins to be created through mining and can only be owned by a person or entity that has been involved with the digital currency from the outset – such as the creator of bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto.

Now the cryptocurrency community wants to see if Wright follows through on his promise to prove he owns bitcoin. Doing so would strengthen Wright’s claim, which was first made in 2016 that he was Nakamoto.

Kleiman’s estate was suing for half of the bitcoin in question.

The case, prosecuted in federal court in Miami, was highly technical, with the jury offering explanations of the complex workings of cryptocurrencies as well as the questionable origins of how bitcoin came to be. The jurors took a full week to deliberate, repeatedly asking lawyers for both sides as well as the judges questions about how cryptocurrencies work as well as the business relationship between the two men. At one point the jurors indicated to the judge that they were in a deadlock.

The origins of bitcoin have always been a mystery, which is why this test has attracted so much attention from outsiders. In October 2008, during the height of the financial crisis, an individual or group known as “Satoshi Nakamoto” published a paper creating 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, which roughly translates from Japanese, means “in the center”, was never thought to be the actual name of the creator of bitcoin.

Wright’s claim that he is Nakamoto has been met with skepticism from a large section of the cryptocurrency community. Because of its structure, all bitcoin transactions are public and there are 1.1 million bitcoins in question, which have remained untouched since their creation. Members of the bitcoin community regularly ask Wright to transfer a fraction of the coins to a separate account to prove ownership and show that he is in fact as rich as he claims.

During the trial, Wright and other cryptocurrency experts testified under oath that Wright owned bitcoin. Wright said he would prove his ownership if he won the trial.

Lawyers for W&K Information Defense Research LLC, the joint venture between the two men, said they were “satisfied” that the jury awarded $100 million in intellectual property rights to the company, which developed software that used early blockchain and cryptocurrency. Lays the groundwork for the technologies.

Andrew Brenner, a partner at Well Friedman and Kyle Roche and Boise Schiller Flexner of Roche Friedman LLP, said, “Wright refused to give Clemons his fair share (David Kleinman) helped build and instead took those assets into his own hands.” Took it.” joint statement.

Wright’s lawyers have repeatedly stated that David Kleiman and Wright were friends and worked together, but that their partnership had nothing to do with the creation or initial operation of bitcoin.

Wright has said that he plans to donate most of his bitcoin assets to charity if he wants to win the lawsuit. In an interview, Wright’s lawyer Rivero confirmed Wright’s plans to donate most of his bitcoin assets.

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