A computer scientist who claims to be the creator of bitcoin mostly prevailed in a Miami lawsuit filed against him by the family of a deceased business partner, although he was still ordered to pay $100 million in damages.
The case, however, disappointed some crypto enthusiasts who had hoped it might prove once and for all who created the controversial cryptocurrency.
Craig Wright — an Australian-born entrepreneur who claims to have invented bitcoin under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto — largely prevailed on Monday in a Florida jury trial over whether the estate of a former business partner deserved half of a bitcoin cache that’s currently worth about $54 billion.
While concluding that Wright was not liable for fraud, jurors did award $100 million in intellectual property rights to W&K Information Defense Research LLC, a joint venture between Wright and Dave Kleiman, who died in 2013.
“This has been a remarkably good outcome and I feel completely vindicated,” Wright said in a video message. “There are still more fights. We are going to make everything change: cryptocurrency to digital cash the way it’s meant to be.”
The identity of bitcoin’s founder has been a question since the digital currency’s inception in October 2008 when a person, or group of people, released a nine-page white paper introducing the new cryptocurrency under the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym.
According to Kleiman’s family, he helped Wright author the white paper and launched bitcoin with him, according to their suit.
Whether he and Kleiman were partners or not, for many bitcoin enthusiasts the only proof that either of them has a genuine claim would come in the form of a password or private key for the digital wallet in Satoshi Nakamoto’s name, which holds more than 1 million bitcoins.
The trove has never been touched, and the fact that neither Wright nor Kleiman’s family has produced a private key has kept many skeptical about both of their claims.
The trial began Nov. 1, lasted roughly three weeks and the jury took approximately one week to decide the outcome. While the jury ruled Kleiman wasn’t entitled to the Satoshi fortune, it did not rule whether Wright had actually created the digital asset.