Oracle and SAP in compensation feud

SOFTWARE heavyweights Oracle and SAP were yesterday battling over compensation figures at the climax of a closely-watched US trial over copyright infringement.

Oracle’s lawyers called for SAP to pay $1.7bn (£1.1bn), while SAP replied a more appropriate award would be closer to $28m.

The compensation debate comes at the end of a federal trial, where German-based SAP acknowledged its TomorrowNow unit had inappropriately accessed Oracle material in a drive to recruit Oracle customers. TomorrowNow, which provided third-party support for software applications acquired by Oracle, was bought by SAP in 2005 for $10m, but shut down in 2008.

Oracle’s lawyers said the trial will be an important test case for the industry – not just two technology giants slugging it out in court.

Oracle attorney David Boies said: “The reason it is so important is because protection of intellectual property is at the heart of the software industry,” Boies said.

He added that SAP believed it could use its TomorrowNow subsidiary, which wrongfully downloaded millions of Oracle files, as a “liability shield” that could take the fall for copyright infringement.

An attorney for SAP, Europe’s top software maker, retorted that Oracle was trying to get jurors to award damages far in excess of TomorrowNow’s true value.

“They are trying to trick you into doing that,” lawyer Robert Mittelstaedt said.

He added SAP never used the software downloaded, and the subsidiary only netted a handful of customers, with little profit.