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SAP Gets Oracle’s Juicy $1.3B Award Overturned

The judge lowered the award to $272 million

The federal judge who oversaw the high-profile trial of SAP last year that ended with the jury awarding Oracle a record $1.3 billion in damages has overturned the decision, agreeing with the German company that the amount is "grossly excessive" and "contrary to the weight of evidence."

She lowered the award to $272 million - all she said that Oracle had proven at trial - and told SAP it would get a new trial just on damages if Oracle didn't accept that amount.

Looks like it'll be back to court then, your honor.

Oracle - as you might expect - issued a statement saying, "There was voluminous evidence regarding the massive scope of the theft, clear involvement of SAP management in the misconduct and the tremendous value of the IP stolen. We believe the jury got it right and we intend to pursue the full measure of damages that we believe are owed to Oracle."

Oracle had charged SAP and its now-defunct TomorrowNow maintenance subsidiary with pilfering scads of its software to steal its customers and outside of the courtroom claimed that Léo Apotheker, now HP's CEO but at the time of the mischief either head of sales or CEO of SAP, with knowing all about the hanky-panky.

At the time of the trial Apotheker had just been named CEO of HP and Oracle claimed he was staying well away from California to avoid a subpoena calling him as a witness. SAP's current co-CEO apologizing from the stand was a nice touch too. Altogether very entertaining.

SAP, which initially figured to get off with maybe a $20 million slap on the wrist for TomorrowNow's admitted copyright infringement, was appalled at the all-time-high decision and protested the way it was derived.

It said the notion of the estimated worth a hypothetical license to the Oracle software - that Larry Ellison admitted on the stand Oracle would never have given SAP - shouldn't be the yardstick and that the profits Oracle lost and that SAP gained should be substituted.

Judge Hamilton's 20-page decision says, "Rather than providing evidence of SAP's actual use of the copyrighted works, and objectively verifiable number of customers lost as a result, Oracle presented evidence of the purported value of the intellectual property as a whole, elicited self-serving testimony from its executives regarding the price they claim they would have demanded in an admittedly fictional negotiation, and proffered the speculative opinion of its damages expert, which was based on little more than guesses about the parties' expectations. At the same time, Oracle urged the jury to disregard evidence of Oracle's actual customer losses resulting from infringement. Thus, the verdict grossly exceeded the actual harm to Oracle in the form of lost customers."

The judge's $272 million figure derives from calculations offered by an SAP expert during the trial.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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