Oracle has lost an appeal to get SAP to fork over $US1.3 billion.
Oracle was trying to make its arch rival pay a huge fine after a now-defunct SAP subsidiary called TomorrowNow was found liable for illegally downloading software owned by Oracle subsidiary PeopleSoft.
Oracle bought PeopleSoft in 2004 via one of the longest, ugliest hostile takeover battles in tech history. SAP’s purchase of TomorrowNow was widely seen as an effort to nab unhappy PeopleSoft customers away from Oracle.
Oracle sued SAP for copyright infringement in 2007 and won its case three years later.
During the suit, SAP admitted that TomorrowNow — which provided technical support to PeopleSoft customers — had downloaded PeopleSoft software. The jury awarded Oracle a hefty $US1.3 billion.
But the judge threw out the award for being too big. The two companies negotiated for SAP to pay Oracle $US272 million plus attorney’s fees. That deal also allowed Oracle to file an appeal.
On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against reinstating the fine, although it did grant Oracle a bit more money, giving the company a choice between $US356.7 million or a new trial.
This lawsuit with SAP has allowed Oracle CEO Larry Ellison to engage in some hefty trash-talk, particularly about its then-CEO Leo Apotheker. (Not that Ellison needs a big excuse to do that. The two companies have been slamming each other for years).
In 2012, during an entertaining interview at the D10 conference, he called Apotheker a “thief” and a “criminal” and saying:
SAP pleaded guilty to criminal theft of our software. Let me be clear. I’m not accusing SAP of anything. What did SAP do? Did you engage in criminal behaviour and steal lots of Oracle software? Yes. That’s SAP. Who was CEO when you were doing all this criminal stuff? Leo.
A SAP spokesperson told us, “We consider it very favourable, and think it shows the strength of our position.”
Here’s a statement from Oracle:
The appellate court ruling effectively permits Oracle to recover close to half a billion dollars in damages and attorneys’ fees from SAP’s brazen conduct and cover-up that led to its admission of infringement liability and criminal charges and fines asserted by the U.S. Department of Justice. “We are thrilled about this landmark recovery and extremely gratified that our efforts to protect innovation and our shareholder’s interests are duly rewarded,” said Dorian Daley, Oracle’s General Counsel. “This sends a strong message to those who would prefer to cheat than compete fairly and legally.”
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