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SAP ordered to pay biggest-ever copyright damages award of $1.3bn

Out-Law News | 24 Nov 2010 | 3:26 pm | 1 min. read

SAP has been ordered to pay rival Oracle $1.3 billion over its use of Oracle software and materials in what is the biggest copyright award ever in the US.

SAP had admitted and apologised for the copyright infringements carried out by its TomorrowNow subsidiary during the trial. It claimed, though, that damages should be $41 million.

A jury trial has instead said that SAP should pay Oracle, its biggest rival in the market for business software, $1.3bn.

The unnamed jury foreman said that the jury came to what it thought was a "fair number" by looking not at the profits that Oracle had lost but at the fair market value for the licence that SAP needed to carry out its activities, according to news agency Bloomberg.

Oracle's lawsuit said that TomorrowNow used Oracle's software and support documentation to lure customers of Oracle-acquired companies to become SAP customers.

The trial heard that TomorrowNow's automated downloading of Oracle material at one point crashed Oracle's systems.

"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," said Oracle president Safra Catz.

"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," said Catz. "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."

SAP said that it could challenge the award.

"We are, of course, disappointed by this verdict and will pursue all available options, including post-trial motions and appeal if necessary," said SAP 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."

"The mark of a leading company is the way it handles its mistakes. As stated in court, we regret the actions of TomorrowNow, we have accepted liability, and have been willing to fairly compensate Oracle," said the SAP statement.

According to Bloomberg research the award swamps the next-biggest copyright damages award of $136m, which was made by a jury in a music copyright case.

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