Detail map of Oakland, California, United States,Redwood City, California, United States,Walldorf, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

A: Oakland, California, United States, B: Redwood City, California, United States, C: Walldorf, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

The $1.3 Billlion Dollar Verdict in Oracle Corporation v. SAP is Partially Vacated

11/23/2010 to 9/1/2011

In U.S. Federal Court in Oakland, California Oracle Corporation, based in Redwood Shores, California, won a $1,300,000,000 copyright infringement judgment against SAP AG, headquartered in Walldorf, Germany.

The judgment—an indication of the size and scale of the software industry— was a result of a lawsuit filed by Oracle in 2007 claiming that a unit of SAP U.S. made hundreds of thousands of illegal downloads and several thousand copies of Oracle’s software to avoid paying licensing fees, and in an attempt to steal customers. 

"The verdict, which came after one day of deliberations, is the biggest ever for copyright infringement and the largest U.S. jury award of 2010, according to Bloomberg data. The award is about equal to SAP’s forecasted net income for the fourth quarter, excluding some costs, according to the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. . . .

"The verdict is the 23rd-biggest jury award of all time, according to Bloomberg data. The largest jury award in a copyright-infringement case previously was $136 million verdict by a Los Angeles jury in 2002 in a Recording Industry Association of America lawsuit against Media Group Inc. for copying and distributing 1,500 songs by artists including Elvis Presley, Madonna and James Brown, according to Bloomberg data" (, accessed 11-24-2010).

On July 13, 2011, SAP filed a motion seeking judgment that actual damages should not be based on hypothetical licenses, and for a new trial for the amount of damages.

"On September 1, 2011, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton granted the judgment as a matter of law on the hypothetical license damages, and vacated the $1.3 billion award amount. In her ruling Judge Hamilton stated:

" 'Oracle’s suggestion – that upon proof of infringement, copyright plaintiffs are automatically entitled to seek “hypothetical” license damages because they are presumed to have suffered harm in the form of lost license fees – has no support in the law.'

"SAP's motion for a new trial was granted, conditioned on Oracle rejecting a remittitur of $272 million, the 'maximum amount of lost profits and infringer’s profits sustainable by the proof.' Judge Hamilton further stated:

" 'Determining a hypothetical license price requires an 'objective, not a subjective” analysis, and '[e]xcessively speculative' claims must be rejected.' " (Wikipedia article on Oracle Corporation v. SAP AG, accessed 04-24-2013).

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