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  • S Fetouh and M Bacina

Craig Wright ordered to pay $142m Kleiman litigation

Updated: May 3

In the recent ground-breaking case of Kleiman v Wright[1], new focus was brought once again on who the true inventor of bitcoin may be.

The late Dave Kleiman was a computer security expert. His brother alleged that Kleiman had worked with Craig Wright, the Australian computer scientist who claims to have invented bitcoin, to create and mine bitcoin in its early years. Consequently, he claimed that the Kleiman’s estate was entitled to half of a cache of as many as 1.1 million bitcoins (worth about AUD$99 billion).

The jury in the Miami federal court in the US favoured Wright, rejecting most of the claims but found him liable for conversion[2]. Wright was ordered to pay AUD$142 million in damages to the entity through which Kleiman and Wright supposedly did work together. This was further to claims that Wright cheated the deceased Kleiman over intellectual property for the cryptocurrency.

Wright has claimed many times over the years in court that he invented bitcoin. On the verdict he said:-

The jury has obviously found that I am because there would have been no award otherwise … and I am.

Lawyers from the Kleiman estate said:

Many years ago, Wright told the Kleiman family that he and Dave Kleiman developed revolutionary bitcoin-based intellectual property. Despite those admissions, Wright refused to give the Kleimans their fair share of what Dave helped create.

They also claimed that besides the bitcoin mining they did together, Kleiman had helped Wright create intellectual property behind the early blockchain technology. However, Wright rejected these claims and argued that there was no paper trail to show this type of partnership.

Lawyers for Wright also claimed victory in this case, stating that what they had been ordered to pay was far less than any settlement offer ever made to the Kleiman estate. What remains unresolved, however, is whether Wright is in fact the creator of bitcoin (aka Satoshi Nakamoto). For the purposes of the proceedings, that was an assumed fact, but to date no definitive proof has ever emerged, which may just be for the best.


[1] Kleiman v Wright, 18-cv-80176, US District Court, District of Southern Florida (Miami). [2] Conversion is the illegal taking of property.


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