An Australian man who claims to be the inventor of Bitcoin has prevailed in a civil trial against the family of his deceased business partner after they claimed they were owed half of a cryptocurrency fortune worth tens of billions.
A Florida jury has found that computer scientist Craig Wright did not owe half of 1.1 million Bitcoin to the family of David Kleiman.
The jury did award $US100 million ($A142 million) in intellectual property rights to a joint venture between the two men, a fraction of what the Kleimans’ lawyers were asking for at trial.
“This was a tremendous victory for our side,” Andres Rivero, the lead lawyer representing Dr Wright, said.
David Kleiman died in April 2013 at the age of 46. Led by his brother Ira, his family has claimed Mr Kleiman and Dr Wright were close friends and co-created Bitcoin through a partnership.
At the centre of the trial were 1.1 million Bitcoin, worth approximately $US50 billion ($A71 billion) based on Monday’s prices.
These were among the first Bitcoin to be created through mining and could be owned only by a person or entity involved with the digital currency from its beginning – such as Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.
Now the cryptocurrency community will be looking to see if Brisbane-born Mr Wright follows through on his promise to prove he is the owner of the Bitcoin.
Doing so would lend credence to Dr Wright’s claim, first made in 2016, that he is Nakamoto.
Mr Kleiman’s estate was suing for half of the Bitcoin in question
Bitcoin’s origins have always been something of a mystery, which is why this trial has drawn so much attention from outsiders.
In October 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis, a person or group of people going by the name ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ published a paper laying out a framework for a digital currency that would not be tied to any legal or sovereign authority.
Mining for the currency, which involves computers solving mathematical equations, began a few months later.
The name Nakamoto, roughly translated from Japanese to mean ‘at the centre of’ was never considered to be the real name of Bitcoin’s creator.
Dr Wright’s claim that he is Nakamoto has been met with scepticism from a sizeable portion of the cryptocurrency community.
Due to its structure, all transactions of Bitcoin are public and the 1.1 million Bitcoins in question have remained untouched since their creation.
Members of the Bitcoin community have regularly called for Dr Wright to move just a fraction of the coins into a separate account to prove ownership.
During the trial, Dr Wright and other cryptocurrency experts testified under oath that Dr Wright owned the Bitcoins in question.
Dr Wright said he would prove his ownership if he won the trial.