Judge rejects Oracle $1.3bn verdict against SAP after copyright dispute

A FEDERAL judge rejected a jury award of $1.3bn (£1.15bn) to Oracle in a copyright infringement lawsuit against SAP, paving the way for a possible new trial in a years-long legal dispute.

In a ruling released yesterday, US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton found that Oracle had proven actual damages of only $272m. She called for a new trial unless Oracle agreed to accept that amount.

A jury awarded Oracle $1.3bn last year over accusations that SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow wrongfully downloaded millions of Oracle files.

“The award of hypothetical licence damages totalling $1.3bn was contrary to the weight of the evidence and was grossly excessive,” Hamilton said in her ruling.

“The court grants the motion for a new trial as to actual damages” should Oracle reject the $272m figure.

An Oracle representative declined to comment.

SAP spokesman Jim Dever said the company is “very gratified” by the decision as it believed the verdict was wrong.

“We hope the court’s action will help drive this matter to a final resolution,” Dever said.

The legal battle between two of the software industry’s largest players captivated Silicon Valley. In 2010, a three-week trial included testimony from such top executives as billionaire Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison and Oracle president Safra Catz.

SAP’s lawyers accused Ellison of plucking damages numbers “out of the air”.