U.S. Court Finds That Australian Computer Scientist Invented Bitcoin

Who is ‘Satoshi Nakamoto,’ the pseudonym used by the person or persons who developed Bitcoin?

According to a U.S. court, Satoshi Nakamoto is Australian computer scientist Craig Wright, who claims to be the inventor of the world’s biggest digital coin. A jury in a Miami, Florida court has found in favour of Mr. Wright, who claimed in a 2016 blog post that he is Satoshi Nakamoto and the inventor of Bitcoin.

Many in the cryptocurrency community remain skeptical of Wright’s claim because he has not cashed in any of the early Bitcoin presumed to have been mined by Satoshi Nakamoto. However, the jury in Miami sided with Wright in a case that pitted him against the family of his late business partner and computer forensics expert, David Kleiman.

At stake was half of the 1.1 million Bitcoin mined and held by Satoshi Nakamoto, a store that’s currently worth about $54 billion U.S. The estate also claimed rights to some of the intellectual property behind early blockchain technology.

The prosecution argued that Kleiman was a co-creator of Bitcoin, alongside Wright, entitling him to half of Satoshi’s Nakamoto’s fortune. A federal jury in West Palm Beach, Florida disagreed and sided with Wright and declined to award any of the Bitcoin to Kleiman’s estate.

However, Wright was ordered to pay $100 million U.S. in compensatory damages over a breach in intellectual property rights related to W&K Info Defense Research LLC, a joint venture between the two men. That money will go to W&K directly, rather than to the Kleiman estate.

In 2008, just as the global financial crisis was taking hold, Satoshi Nakamoto published a nine-page white paper detailing a vision for Bitcoin, a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system” that would function outside the reach of governments. A few months later, Satoshi Nakamoto released software that allowed users to mine for the world’s first cryptocurrency.

Mining for cryptocurrencies is the computationally intensive process by which new tokens are created and transactions of existing digital coins are verified. In the early days of Bitcoin, it was possible to mine for it on a home computer. Today, the process requires specialized equipment and is mostly done by professionals.

Satoshi Nakamoto, who could be one person or a consortium of coders, remained involved in Bitcoin until 2011, at which point he abruptly left the project after emailing a fellow developer to say that they had “moved on to other things.” Before vanishing, the enigmatic creator is believed to have mined as many as 1.1 million Bitcoin.

Had Wright lost the case, he would have had to produce the Satoshi Nakamoto cache of Bitcoins to pay the estate. But Wright did say that he would prove his ownership were he to win at trial. He also promised to donate much of his Bitcoin fortune to charity if victorious in court.