Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist who claims to be the inventor of bitcoins, has prevailed in a civil trial against the family of a deceased business partner who claimed it was owed half of a cryptanalym worth tens of billions of dollars.
A Florida jury found that Wright did not owe half of 1.1 million bitcoins to the family of David Kleiman. The jury gave $100 m 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 of Rivero Mestre LLP, the lead lawyer for Wright.
David Kleiman died at the age of 46 in April 2013. His family claimed David Kleiman and Wright were close friends and co-created bitcoin through a partnership, according to his brother Ira Kleiman.
There were 1.1 m bitcoins, worth approximately $50 billion based on Monday s prices. These were some of the first 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 Satoshi Nakamoto.
The community will be looking to see if Wright will prove he is the owner of the bitcoins. Doing so would lend credence to Wright's claim, first made in 2016 that he is Nakamoto.
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. The jurors signalled to the judge that they were deadlocked.
The origins of the digital currency have always been a mystery, which is why this trial has attracted so much attention from outsiders. In October 2008 a person or group of people named Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper that laid out a framework for a digital currency that would not be tied to any legal or sovereign authority. Mining for the currency, which involves solving mathematical equations, began a few months later.
Nakamoto, roughly translated from Japanese to mean at the centre of, was never considered to be the real name of the creator of the digital currency.
Wright's claim that he is Nakamoto has been met with scepticism from a large portion of the community. The 1.1 million bitcoins in question have remained untouched since the creation of the digital asset due to its structure.
Members of the community have called for Wright to move a fraction of the coins into a separate account to prove ownership and show that he truly is as wealthy as he claims.
Wright and other experts testified under the oath that Wright is the owner of the bitcoins in question.
Wright said he would prove his ownership if he were to win at trial.
The lawyers for W&K Information Defense Research LLC, the joint venture between the two men, said they were gratified by the jury's decision to grant $100 million in intellectual property rights to the company that developed software that set the groundwork for early blockchain and cryptocurrencies technologies.
In a joint statement, Vel Freedman and Kyle Roche of Roche Freedman LLP and Andrew Brenner, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, said Wright refused to give the Kleimans their fair share of what David Kleiman helped create and instead took those assets for themselves.
Wright's lawyers have said repeatedly that David Kleiman and Wright were friends and collaborated on work together, but their partnership had nothing to do with the creation or early operation of the digital currency.
If he wins the trial, Wright plans to donate much of his bitcoins fortune to charity. In an interview, Wright's lawyer Rivero reconfirmed Wright's plans to donate much of his bitcoins fortune.