Against the family of a deceased business partner who claimed it was owed a share of a cryptocurrency fortune worth tens of billions, Craig Wright, a computer scientist who claims to be the inventor of Bitcoin, was victorious in a civil trial verdict on Monday.
A Florida jury found that Wright did not owe the family of David Kleiman half of the 1.1 million Bitcoins that they claimed he owed them. After deliberating for nearly two hours, the jury awarded $100 million in intellectual property rights to a joint venture between the two men, which was a fraction of what Kleiman’s attorneys had requested at trial.
In the words of Andres Rivero of Rivero Mestre LLP, the lead attorney representing Wright, “This was a tremendous victory for our side.”
David Kleiman, who died in April 2013 at the age of 46, was an American actor. His family, led by his brother Ira Kleiman, has asserted that David Kleiman and Wright were close friends who worked together to co-create Bitcoin in a joint venture.
The trial revolved around 1.1 million Bitcoin, which were worth approximately $50 billion at the time of the trial’s start on Monday. These were some of the very first Bitcoins to be created through mining, and they could only be acquired by a person or entity who had been involved with the digital currency since its inception — such as Satoshi Nakamoto, the cryptocurrency’s creator.
The cryptocurrency community will now be watching to see if Wright follows through on his promise to provide proof that he is the true owner of Bitcoin. Wright has promised to do so. This would lend credence to Wright’s claim that he is Nakamoto, which he made for the first time in 2016.
The case, which was tried in federal court in Miami, was extremely technical, with the jury being subjected to explanations of the intricate workings of cryptocurrencies as well as the murky origins of how Bitcoin came to be. Ultimately, the jury found the defendants not guilty. Jurors deliberated for a full week, repeatedly questioning lawyers on both sides as well as the judge about the operation of cryptocurrencies as well as the nature of the business relationship between the two men. At one point, the jurors indicated to the judge that they were unable to reach a decision.
In the past, the origins of Bitcoin have been a bit of a mystery, which is one of the reasons why this trial has gotten so much attention from outside observers. “Satoshi Nakamoto” is a pseudonym used to refer to a person or group of people who published a paper in October 2008 during the height of the financial crisis setting out a framework for a digital currency that would not be tied to any legal or sovereign authority. The process of mining for the currency, which involves computers solving complex mathematical equations, began a few months after the launch.
The name Nakamoto, which can be roughly translated from Japanese to mean “at the heart of,” was never considered to be the real name of Bitcoin’s creator, despite the fact that it was widely assumed.
To Wright’s claim that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, a significant portion of the cryptocurrency community has expressed skepticism. Because of the way Bitcoin is structured, all of its transactions are visible to the public, and the 1.1 million Bitcoin in question have remained unchanged since their creation. In recent months, members of the Bitcoin community have repeatedly called on Wright to transfer a small fraction of his coins into a separate account in order to establish ownership and demonstrate that he is truly as wealthy as he claims.
The Bitcoin in question was owned by Wright, according to both Wright and other cryptocurrency experts who testified under oath during the courtroom proceedings. If he were to win the case, Wright stated that he would provide proof of ownership.
It was “gratifying” for the lawyers representing W&K Information Defense Research LLC, the joint venture between the two men, to learn that a jury had awarded the company $100 million in intellectual property rights. The company developed software that laid the groundwork for early blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies, and the jury’s decision was “gratifying.”
According to the attorneys Vel Freedman and Kyle Roche of Roche Freedman LLP and Andrew Brenner, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, “Wright refused to give the Kleimans their fair share of what (David Kleinman) helped create and instead took those assets for himself,” they said in a joint statement.
Wright’s attorneys have stated on numerous occasions that David Kleiman and Wright were friends who collaborated on projects together, but that their relationship had nothing to do with the creation or early operation of Bitcoin.
Wright has stated that if he is successful in his legal battle, he intends to donate a large portion of his Bitcoin fortune to charity. Wright’s lawyer, Rivero, confirmed in an interview that Wright intends to donate a significant portion of his Bitcoin fortune.