11 April 2022TrademarksAlex Baldwin

Bitcoin IP dispute rekindled with appeal

A computer scientist’s estate has appealed an award handed to self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor Craig Wright, who won a lawsuit to secure IP rights to the technology.

In December last year, Wright prevailed in a dispute concerning whether he had the right to approximately $54 billion in Bitcoin belonging to late scientist and former business partner David Kleiman.

The Florida Jury rejected almost all claims against Wright from Kleiman’s estate, awarding Kleiman’s and Wright’s former joint partnership $100 million and awarded IP related to the Bitcoin invention to Wright.

While both parties claimed victory following the ruling, Kleiman’s estate has now moved to appeal the ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, according to a notice filed on Friday, April 8.

Right to IP

The dispute arose in April 2018 when Ira Kleiman, the brother of David Kleiman, sued Wright in a Florida court, claiming that Wright was plotting to seize bitcoins and related IP from Kleiman’s estate following his passing.

In the complaint, Kleiman’s estate claimed that David and Wright invented the cryptocurrency together in 2008 under the name Satoshi Nakamoto, the online pseudonym long associated with the earliest online mentions of Bitcoin.

The pair claimed to release the original Bitcoin whitepaper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System was posted to a mailing list of cryptography enthusiasts”.

The complaint also claimed that Wright had attempted to misappropriate trade secrets belonging to the Kleiman estate through the use of fraudulent contracts, misrepresentation and fraudulently obtained court documents to transfer IP to himself.

However, a Florida jury cleared Wright of six of the seven allegations and concluded that he was not liable for fraud, handing him certain IP related to the Bitcoin technology.

The jury rejected the estate’s ownership claim to contested bitcoin holdings worth up to $54 billion.

It also awarded W&K Information Defense Research, a venture set up by Wright and David Kleiman, $100 million in assets, but did not award the estate itself any damages.

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More on this story

1 February 2022   In the Bitcoin whitepaper, Satoshi Nakamoto detailed a “purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash” using timestamps to form a chain of transactions to keep a “public history of transactions”.
7 December 2021   An Australian computer scientist and self-proclaimed inventor of Bitcoin has been cleared of majority of claims in an IP dispute, but will have to pay $100 million to a venture he founded with his deceased business partner.