SAP Ordered to Pay Oracle $1.3 Billion for Copyright Infringement

Oracle president calls award the largest ever for software piracy in closely watched lawsuit.

November 25, 2010

D.H. Kass

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A federal jury in Oakland, CA ordered SAP AG to pay $1.3 billion to Oracle Corp. for stealing its software, an award Oracle’s president claimed to be the largest on record for software piracy.

In the lawsuit, Oracle charged that SAP stole thousands of copies of its software and then resold it to Oracle’s customers. While SAP admitted that its TomorrowNow unit had illegally downloaded Oracle’s software—and apologized during the proceedings--the bitter rivals argued over the amount of damage done.

SAP contended that its activities lured away only a few hundred of Oracle’s customers, and pegged its liability at some $40 million, about one-fourth of the $1.65 billion Oracle claimed.

The three-week long trial drew attention for the involvement of highly visible players, including Larry Ellison, Oracle chief executive and Safra Catz, Oracle president. Leo Apotheker, former SAP top executive and current Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive, did not testify in the proceedings, but that did not deter Oracle from charging that he knew of the alleged software piracy.

SAP said in a statement that it will respond to the verdict by exercising certain legal options. The company left open the possibility of appealing the ruling.

“We are, of course, disappointed by this verdict and will pursue all available options, including post-trial motions and appeal if necessary,” SAP officials said. “As stated in court, we regret the actions of TomorrowNow, we have accepted liability, and have been willing to fairly compensate Oracle.”

In praising the jury’s verdict, Oracle’s Catz said, "For more than three years, SAP stole thousands of copies of Oracle software and then resold that software and related services to Oracle's own customers,” Catz said.

“Right before the trial began, SAP admitted its guilt and liability, then the trial made it clear that SAP’s most senior executives were aware of the illegal activity from the very beginning,” she said.

“As a result, a United States Federal Court has ordered SAP to pay Oracle $1.3 billion. This is the largest amount ever awarded for software piracy."

TAGS: Oracle,SAP,Larry Ellison,Copyright,Leo Apotheker

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