Oracle would have banked the largest U.S. intellectual property infringement award on record if the $1.3 billion judgment had stood. The jury on Nov. 23, 2010, had concluded that amount was fair restitution in a 3-year-old copyright infringement lawsuit.
eight-person jury, supervised by Oakland-based federal Judge Phyllis Hamilton
in November 2010, had its wishes overturned Sept. 1 when, upon appeal, Hamilton
threw out the jury's $1.3
billion punishment determination against German software maker SAP
admitted copyright infringement against longtime rival Oracle.
would have banked the largest U.S. copyright infringement award on record if
the $1.3 billion judgment had stood. The jury on Nov. 23, 2010, had concluded
that amount was fair restitution in a 3-year-old copyright infringement
Ironically, the same judge also ruled in December 2010
that SAP also would have to pay an extra $16.5 million -- above and beyond the $1.3 billion -- to Oracle in prejudgment interest on the penalty. That award also was overturned.
in its lawsuit filed in 2007, charged that SAP-through a now-defunct U.S.-based
affiliate division called TomorrowNow-illegally downloaded more than 8 million
instances of its customer-support software and hundreds of thousands of pages
of supporting documentation from one of Oracle's Websites, then used those
tools to lure some 350 customers away from Oracle and over to SAP.
claimed that the stolen documents enabled SAP to entice customers into buying
similar services at lower prices from SAP. The German company argued that since
TomorrowNow only lured a few hundred customers, it should have to pay only $40
million to cover those accounts.
jury, in awarding Oracle massively more than $40 million after a three-week
trial, illustrated how much they were willing to punish a corporation for
intellectual-property theft. But Hamilton called the penalty "grossly
excessive" and said the size of the penalty was "contrary to the
weight of the evidence."
Award Now Could be $272 Million
can now choose whether to accept a lower award of $272 million or file for a new
trial before a different jury. The $272 million amount emanated from an earlier
estimate from an Oracle expert on what profit Oracle lost and SAP gained.
took corporate responsibility
for its affiliate's actions in a court
document filed Oct. 28, 2010, and officially apologized on Nov. 16. The
$1.3 billion judgment was announced a week later. SAP subsequently filed an
appeal, with Hamilton's resulting decision coming a full nine months later.
are very gratified with the court's decision," SAP told the press through
Global Communications Director James Dever. "We believed the jury's
verdict was wrong and are pleased at the significant reduction in
damages. We hope the court's action will help drive this matter to a final
resolution. We are hopeful that this ruling will move the case toward an
appropriate final resolution."
was not pleased by the news and said it will fight for the full amount it was originally
was voluminous evidence regarding the massive scope of the theft, clear
involvement of SAP management in the misconduct and the tremendous value of the
[intellectual property] stolen," Oracle said. "We believe the jury
got it right, and we intend to pursue the full measure of damages that we
believe are owed to Oracle."