A federal judge has rejected a jury award of $1.3bn to Oracle following its intellectual property theft case against SAP.
US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton said the initial award was "grossly excessive" and a figure of $272m was more appropriate compensation for Oracle. She suggested that the case would go to retrial if Oracle does not accept the new offer.
"The award of hypothetical license damages totalling $1.3bn was contrary to the weight of the evidence and was grossly excessive," Hamilton wrote, according to Reuters.
"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," she added.
In a statement Oracle suggested it would appeal the decision. "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," the statement added.
SAP had admitted liability in a case that has been rumbling on for a number of years. It centres on an SAP subsidiary called TomorrowNow, which offered low cost support for Oracle-owned PeopleSoft. The company accessed Oracle’s computer system and downloaded software code without paying the appropriate license fee.
The trial has created plenty of tension between Larry Ellison-run Oracle and SAP and has even seen HP dragged into it. Oracle attempted to subpoena Leo Apotheker shortly after he had taken over as HP’s CEO, as he was in charge of SAP at the time the case centres on. However Oracle was unable to locate him and therefore could not call him to testify.
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