Craig Wright, a computer scientist who claims to be the inventor of bitcoin, escaped a potential multibillion-dollar verdict Monday in his fight with the estate of computer forensics expert Dave Kleiman, which claimed it was owed half of a cryptocurrency fortune worth tens of billions of dollars, according to news reports.
A Florida jury found that Wright did not owe half of 1.1 million bitcoin to the family of David Kleiman, the Associated Press reported.
The jury awarded $100 million in intellectual property rights to a joint venture between the two men, far less than what Kleiman’s lawyers were asking for in trial.
“This was a tremendous victory for our side,” said Andres Rivero of Rivero Mestre, the lead lawyer representing Wright.
At the center of the trial are 1.1 million bitcoin, worth about $50 billion based on Monday’s prices.
These were among the first bitcoins to be created through mining and could only be owned by a person or entity involved with the digital currency from its beginning.
Bitcoin’s origins have been murky. In October 2008, a person named “Satoshi Nakamoto” published a paper laying out a framework for a digital currency that would not be tied to any legal or sovereign authority
The name Nakamoto, roughly translated from Japanese to mean “at the center of,” was never considered to be the real name of Bitcoin’s creator. Wright has claimed since 2016 that he is Nakamoto.
Wright testified that he was friends with Dave Kleiman, and that Kleiman helped him edit a white paper that explained the foundation of bitcoin. He insisted the two were not business partners.
Wright has said he plans to donate much of the bitcoin fortune to charity if he were to win at trial.
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