SAP ordered to pay Oracle

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison arrives at the Federal Building in Oakland, California.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison arrives at the Federal Building in Oakland, California.

Published Nov 24, 2010


Oakland - SAP AG must pay Oracle $1.3-billion for software theft, a jury decided, awarding damages that could be the largest-ever for copyright infringement.

The decision, by a US district court jury in Oakland California, drew a gasp from the courtroom and prompted hugs and handshakes among Oracle's legal team, which has pursued their case for years.

Oracle's shares rose 1.5 percent in after-hours trade, while those of SAP slipped 1.4 percent.

SAP, Europe's top software maker, said it was disappointed by the verdict and might appeal.

“We are, of course, disappointed by this verdict and will pursue all available options, including post-trial motions and appeal if necessary,” SAP said in a statement in response to the verdict.

Attorneys for Oracle called the verdict the largest ever for a copyright infringement case.

While SAP could appeal, Oracle attorney David Boies said, that would raise the possibility of a retrial. “If I were SAP, and I'm not, but if I were SAP, I'm not sure I would want to have another trial,” Boies said.

At the outset of the trial, the German company acknowledged that its TomorrowNow subsidiary had wrongfully downloaded millions of Oracle's files.

With the admission of liability, the issue before the jury was how much Oracle was owed in damages. SAP said no more $40-million, while Oracle at least $1.65-billion.

“The mark of a leading company is the way it handles its mistakes. As stated in court, we regret the actions of TN, we have accepted liability, and have been willing to fairly compensate Oracle,” SAP said after the verdict was announced.

“Home run!” Eric Goldman, an associate professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law, wrote in an email. He expected SAP to appeal what he called one of the 10 or 20 largest jury verdicts in US legal history.

“I would expect there to be lots more shenanigans. but now SAP is truly on the run. They have to climb an even steeper mountain.”

The three-week trial featured testimony from such top executives as Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison - whom SAP's lawyers accused of plucking damages numbers “out of the air” - and President Safra Catz. SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott also took the stand and apologised to Oracle for the events surrounding TomorrowNow. - Reuters

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