Judge rejects Oracle $1.3 billion verdict against SAP

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 01, 2011 3:48 PM
Judge rejects Oracle $1.3 billion verdict against SAP

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A federal judge rejected a jury award of $1.3 billion to Oracle Corp in a copyright infringement lawsuit against SAP AG, paving the way for a possible new trial in a years-long legal dispute.

In a ruling released on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton found that Oracle had proven actual damages of only $272 million. She called for a new trial unless Oracle agreed to accept that amount.

Oracle shares were down 0.8 percent at $27.85 in afternoon trading.

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

"The award of hypothetical license damages totaling $1.3 billion 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 $272 million 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 CEO Larry Ellison and Oracle President Safra Catz.

SAP's lawyers accused Ellison of plucking damages numbers "out of the air."

SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott also took the stand and apologized to Oracle for the events surrounding TomorrowNow.

(Reporting by Dan Levine, editing by Maureen Bavdek and John Wallace)