Bitcoin trial: Defendant prevails in a $50 billion Bitcoin dispute

Bitcoin trial: Defendant prevails in a $50 billion Bitcoin dispute
Bitcoin trial/image courtesy of Facebook

Craig Wright, a computer scientist who claims to be the inventor of Bitcoin, has won a civil trial against the family of a deceased business partner who claimed to be owed half of a cryptocurrency fortune worth tens of billions.


According to a Florida jury on Monday, Wright did not owe half of 1.1 million Bitcoin to David Kleiman’s family. However, the jury did award a joint venture between the two men $100 million in intellectual property rights, which was a fraction of what Kleiman’s lawyers were asking for at trial.


The lead lawyer for Wright, Andres Rivero of Rivero Mestre LLP, said, “This was a tremendous victory for our side.”


David Kleiman, who was 46 years old at the time of his death, died in April 2013. His family, led by his brother Ira Kleiman, has claimed that David Kleiman and Wright were close friends who collaborated to create Bitcoin.


The trial revolved around 1.1 million Bitcoins worth around $50 billion at Monday’s prices. These were among the first Bitcoins to be created through mining, and they could only be owned by people or entities who had been involved with the digital currency since its inception, such as Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s creator.


The cryptocurrency community will now be watching to see if Wright keeps his promise to prove he is the rightful owner of Bitcoin. This would support Wright’s claim that he is Nakamoto, which he first made in 2016.


The case was highly technical, with the jury hearing explanations of the intricate workings of cryptocurrencies as well as the murky origins of how Bitcoin came to be in federal court in Miami.


Jurors deliberated for a week, repeatedly questioning lawyers on both sides, as well as the judge, about how cryptocurrencies work and the two men’s business relationship. The jurors indicated to the judge that they were deadlocked at one point.


The origins of Bitcoin have always been a bit of a mystery, which is why this trial has gotten so much media attention. During the height of the financial crisis in October 2008, a person or group of people known as “Satoshi Nakamoto” published a paper outlining a framework for a digital currency that would be independent of any legal or sovereign authority. A few months later, mining for the currency began, which involved computers solving mathematical equations.


The name Nakamoto, which roughly translates to “at the center of” in Japanese, was never thought to be the real name of Bitcoin’s creator.


A significant portion of the cryptocurrency community has questioned Wright’s claim that he is Nakamoto. All Bitcoin transactions are public due to their structure, and the 1.1 million Bitcoin in question have remained untouched since their creation.


Members of the Bitcoin community have repeatedly demanded that Wright move a small portion of the coins to a separate account to prove ownership and demonstrate that he is as wealthy as he claims.


Wright and other cryptocurrency experts testified under oath during the trial that Wright owns the Bitcoin in question. If Wright were to win at trial, he claimed he would be able to prove his ownership.


W&K Information Defence Research LLC, the two men’s joint venture, said it was “gratified” that the jury awarded the company $100 million in intellectual property rights. W&K Information Defence Research LLC developed software that laid the foundation for early blockchain and cryptocurrency 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 Kleinman) helped create and instead took those assets for himself.”


According to Wright’s lawyers, David Kleiman and Wright were friends and collaborated on work together, but their partnership had nothing to do with Bitcoin’s creation or early operation.


If Wright prevails at trial, he has stated that he intends to donate a large portion of the Bitcoin fortune to charity. In an interview, Wright’s lawyer, Rivero, confirmed Wright’s plans to donate a large portion of his Bitcoin fortune.


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