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 / Updated  / Source: Reuters

Mt. Gox, once the world's largest bitcoin exchange, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Dallas, a move that will temporarily put U.S. legal action on hold against the Japanese company.

The company said without such protection it would spend substantial funds defending itself against a U.S. lawsuit seeking class action status that was filed in Chicago federal court.

A protest against Mt. Gox, in front of the building where the bitcoin exchange was formerly housed in Tokyo. Mt. Gox has filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. following a similar move in TokyoToru Hanai / Reuters

Last month, Mt. Gox sought Chapter 11-style bankruptcy protection in Tokyo, saying it had lost bitcoins and cash worth some half a billion dollars due to hacker attacks.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency that can be spent anonymously over the Internet. Bitcoin isn’t tied to a government or central bank and it isn’t backed by a precious metal, like gold. Instead, it has value because people believe it does. Last Friday, one bitcoin was worth $639.