An Australian computer scientist who claimed to be the inventor of bitcoin has won a major U.S. civil court case in Miami, Florida, against the family of his late business partner David Kleiman, a computer forensics expert. The dispute was over access to half of a cryptocurrency stash of 1.1 million bitcoin, currently valued at approximately $54 billion.
“Australian computer scientist Craig Wright implied in a 2016 blog post that he was Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym used by the person or persons who developed bitcoin. Many in the crypto community are skeptical of Wright’s claim, in part because he has not moved any of the early bitcoin presumed to have been mined by Satoshi,” CNBC reported. “On Monday, Wright prevailed in a Miami civil case that pitted him against the family of his late business partner and computer forensics expert, David Kleiman. At stake was half of the 1.1 million bitcoin mined and held by Satoshi, a cache currently worth around $54 billion. The estate also claimed rights to some of the intellectual property behind early blockchain technology.”
“The prosecution argued that Kleiman was a co-creator of bitcoin, alongside Wright, entitling him to half of Satoshi’s assumed fortune. A federal jury in West Palm Beach sided with Wright and declined to award any of the bitcoin to Kleiman’s estate,” CNBC explained. “However, Wright was ordered to pay $100 million in compensatory damages over a breach in intellectual property rights related to W&K Info Defense Research LLC, a joint venture between the two men. That money will go to W&K directly, rather than to the Kleiman estate.”
“We are immensely gratified that our client, W&K Information Defense Research LLC, has won $100,000,000 reflecting that Craig Wright wrongfully took bitcoin-related assets from W&K,” counsel for W&K said.
“This has been a remarkably good outcome, and I feel completely vindicated,” Wright said following the verdict. “There are still more fights. We are going to make everything change: cryptocurrency to digital cash the way it’s meant to be.”
— Jimmy Nguyen (@JimmyWinSV) December 6, 2021
As CNN noted, court papers indicated that the 1.1 million bitcoin had been mined by Satoshi Nakamoto, “whose October 2008 white paper ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’ described a framework for what would become bitcoin.”
As CoinDesk explored, Wright’s claims are still the subject of heavy debate. In an opinion piece titled, “Why Are We Still Debating Whether Craig Wright Is Satoshi?” David Z. Morris wrote, “A bold claim and a little financial backing can get you a lot of media mileage — even when nearly nobody believes you.”
CNET reported that “The trial didn’t address the question of Nakamoto’s identity, as both sides claimed Wright was either partially or wholly responsible for the creation of bitcoin.”
“However,” CNET added, “Wright has yet to access the wallet with the 1.1. million bitcoin inside, which would go a long way toward proving Wright is Nakamoto once and for all.”