An American jury told the Australian computer scientist that he claims to have invented Bitcoin that paid $ 100 million in damages for claims that he misled a deceased friend for cryptocurrency intellectual property.
Jurors in federal court in Miami took about a week to reach a verdict on Monday, after about three weeks of trial. The jury rejected most of the claims against Craig Wright and the result likely won’t settle the debate over whether Wright is the mythical creator of the peer-to-peer coin, Satoshi Nakamoto.
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The brother of Dave Kleiman, a computer security expert who died in 2013, alleged that the late Florida man worked with Wright to create and mine Bitcoin in his early years. As a result, the plaintiffs claimed that the estate was entitled to half of a cache of up to 1.1 million Bitcoins worth about $ 70 billion, believed to be held by Satoshi.
Some cryptocurrency investors view Wright as bogus, and years-long litigation in Florida has done little to appease skeptics. Wright has stated many times in court that he invented Bitcoin, as he has previously done in news interviews. If the jury’s verdict had gone against Wright, that would have forced him to produce Satoshi’s fortune. For some observers, that would have been the real test.
Wright said after the verdict: “I have never felt so relieved in my life.” He said he will not appeal.
He also said that he feels vindicated and that the verdict proves that he is the creator of Bitcoin.
“The jury has obviously found that I am because there would have been no award otherwise,” he said. “And I am.”
An attorney for the Kleiman estate, Devin Freedman, hailed the verdict as “a historic precedent in the innovative and transformative cryptocurrency and blockchain industry.”
“Many years ago, Craig Wright told the Kleiman family that he and Dave Kleiman developed a revolutionary intellectual property based on Bitcoin,” he said in a statement. “Despite those admissions, Wright refused to give the Kleimans their fair share of what Dave helped create.”
The jury found Wright liable for the conversion (the illegal taking of property) and awarded damages to W&K Info Defense Research LLC, the entity through which Kleiman and Wright are supposed to have worked together.
In closing arguments before the jury, Freedman said that Wright conspired and conspired to “rob his dead best friend with forgeries and lies.”
The estate claimed that in addition to the Bitcoin mining that the friends did together, Kleiman helped Wright create the intellectual property behind early blockchain technology worth $ 252 billion.
Wright argued that Dave Kleiman’s brother Ira’s claims were fabricated. He testified that his friend did not help him launch the cryptocurrency and argued that there was no paper trail to prove they had a partnership.
Andrés Rivero, Wright’s attorney, described the verdict as a complete victory for his client.
“The plaintiffs were demanding a more punitive $ 600 billion,” he said in a telephone interview after the verdict. “This is one of the most resounding victories in American litigation. We had crushed them. Your result is less than any settlement offer we have made to you. This is a total loss to the other side. ”
The case is Kleiman v. Wright, 18-cv-80176, United States District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).
© 2021 Bloomberg