A US court today announced that SAP has to pay Oracle 1.3 Billion dollars for stealing its customer data. The verdict came after months of deliberation by the U.S. District Court in California.
All this began in 2007 when Oracle sued SAP for making thousands of copies of Oracle software as well as initiating hundreds of thousands of illegal downloads. SAP then sold the same software and related services to Oracle's own customers in an effort to drive customers away from Oracle.
Oracle claimed that the value of software would have been worth over $ 2 billion over its entire lifetime, SAP who admitted guilt and apologized for the infringement said that the actual value is not more than $40 million because it managed to persuade only a few hundred of Oracle’s customers to defect.
The copyright infringement took place at SAP’s TomorrowNow subsidiary, which handled tech support for software running in large corporations. The subsidiary which was shut in 2008, illicitly copied a large library of Oracle’s software and customer manuals.
Chief Executive of Oracle, Lawrence J. Ellison said that the dispute was not over the deed, but over how big the damages were, while SAP countered that the number set by Mr. Ellison was exaggerated and that damages were no more than $41 million.
Safra A. Catz, Oracle’s co-president, said, “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.”
While SAP, in a statement said “We are, of course, disappointed by this verdict and will pursue all available options, including post-trial motions and appeal if necessary. 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 TN (TomorrowNow) , we have accepted liability, and have been willing to fairly compensate Oracle. Throughout this matter, our customers, employees and partners have stood by us and, for that, we are grateful. Our focus now is looking forward, helping our customers be best run businesses, and extending our legacy of industry leadership well into the future. We thank the jury for its diligent service through this lengthy trial and the Court for its supervision.
The entire episode drives home the point that companies now have to be very careful when it comes to copyright infringement and that a company will go to great lengths to protect its creations.