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SAP to pay Oracle $1.3bn in damages for copyright infringement

Warwick Ashford

A US federal court has ordered German enterprise software maker SAP to pay US rival Oracle $1.3bn in damages for copyright infringement.

The damages award came on top of a $120m payment already agreed by SAP to cover Oracle's legal costs.

Although less than Oracle's claim of $2.3bn and chief executive Larry Ellison's claim of $4bn, the outcome is a major victory for the US company, according to the New York Times.

The award, the largest ever for copyright infringement, comes as big technology companies, including Apple, Google and Motorola, have increasingly resorted to the courts to resolve patent and intellectual property disputes, the paper said.

Oracle filed the suit in 2007, claiming TomorrowNow illegally copied software code from Oracle systems needed to support customers, without buying licences to access it.

E-mail shown in court highlighted that SAP executives ignored warnings of copyright infringement.

SAP acknowledged its now-defunct support services subsidiary TomorrowNow made "inappropriate" downloads of Oracle materials in 2007, but said Oracle exaggerated the impact on its business and argued damages should not exceed $40m.

SAP said it was disappointed by the verdict and would pursue all available options, including post-trial motions, and appeal if necessary.

Just ahead of the trial, Ellison challenged former SAP chief executive Léo Apotheker, to a showdown in court. Ellison said Apotheker, now chief executive at HP, oversaw the vast copyright infringement plan while at SAP.

Apotheker, who did not testify at the trial because Oracle's lawyers were unable to find him to serve him with a subpoena, said this week he had been travelling around the world visiting HP facilities.


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