Reuters / Robert Galbraith
A federal appeals court on Friday rejected Oracle’s bid to restore a $1.3 billion jury verdict in its long-running copyright dispute with German software company SAP, and said Oracle may choose to either accept a lower amount or face a new trial.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said jurors used “an undue amount of speculation” in awarding $1.3 billion in damages in 2010.
But it said that U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, Calif., erred in concluding that the verdict was too high and that Oracle deserved only $272 million of damages, a sum Oracle rejected.
Writing for a three-judge 9th Circuit panel, Judge William Fletcher directed Hamilton to offer Oracle a choice of $356.7 million in damages or a second trial.
Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined to comment. SAP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The case involved SAP’s TomorrowNow unit, which the German company had bought to provide software support to Oracle customers at lower rates than what Oracle charged, hoping to convince them to become SAP customers.
Oracle sued SAP in 2007 after noticing thousands of suspicious downloads of its software.
SAP later conceded that its employees were illegally downloading Oracle files. But it couldn’t agree with Oracle on damages, leading to the trial.
In finding that Oracle deserved no more than $272 million for the illegal downloads, Hamilton said the Redwood City, Calif.-based company was entitled only to profit it lost and profit that SAP gained.
Subsequently, SAP agreed to pay Oracle $306 million, but that agreement allowed Oracle to seek to restore the jury verdict, or win a retrial based on its own damages theories.
In finding the $272 million damages award “below the maximum amount sustainable by the proof,” the 9th Circuit said Hamilton erred in finding that Oracle had lost just $36 million of profit, when the proper figure should have been $120.7 million.
The case is Oracle Corp et al v. SAP AG et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-16944.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Leslie Adler)