German software maker SAP has been ordered to pay $1.3 billion in damages to Oracle for copyright infringement. The companies had already determined that SAP was guilty of the act, but moved forward with the jury trial in order to determine damages. Now, SAP finds itself facing a record-setting judgment that it wasn't quite prepared for, but plans to appeal.
The lawsuit dates back to 2009, when Oracle accused SAP of posing as other companies in order to gain access to Oracle's intellectual property (the PeopleSoft system, for those of you who are painfully familiar with it). It alleged that SAP intended to "take the maintenance revenue stream away from [Oracle]." Among other things, SAP hurriedly acquired a company called TomorrowNow in order to make mass copies of Oracle's software and data, and then supposedly used software to comb Oracle's website for patches and updates to that software.
Just before the trial began, SAP conceded that it had engaged in copyright infringement, but (understandably) wanted to minimize the damages. That obviously didn't happen, as the jury ended up giving Oracle the highest damages award in the history of US copyright infringement law.
$41 million was the number that SAP was originally hoping for, but the jury clearly felt that was unrealistic. Several jurors told Reuters after the verdict was announced that they focused on how much SAP would have paid if it had simply licensed Oracle's software since 2005—a common (if sometimes flawed) technique for determining losses in piracy cases. One juror said that the award could have gone as low as $519 million or as high as $3 billion.
SAP said that it plans to get the decision changed in order to lower the damages. "We are, of course, disappointed by this verdict and will pursue all available options, including post-trial motions and appeal if necessary," a SAP spokesperson said in a statement. "This will unfortunately be a prolonged process and we continue to hope that the matter can be resolved appropriately without more years of litigation."
SAP could be a sucker for punishment if it plans to appeal the decision, but Silvia Quandt analyst Jacques Abramowicz noted that the jury's award was 10 times what SAP had set aside for this case. The prospect of shelling out $1.3 billion is likely enough motivation to keep pushing for lower damages.
Source: ars technica