IP/TECH UPDATE: Court Tosses Oracle’s $1.3 Billion Jury Award in Copyright Case Against SAP


A United States District Court judge has vacated a jury’s award of $1.3 Billion in damages in a copyright infringement case between software giants Oracle and SAP. The Court rejected the jury’s use of a “hypothetical license” as a basis for damages, and instead ruled that damages should be limited to the profits lost by Oracle and gained by SAP as a result of the infringement.

Oracle sued SAP in March 2007 for software copyright infringement. By the time of the November 2010 jury trial, SAP admitted the infringement, and the jury’s only task was to determine the amount of damages to be awarded to Oracle. The jury returned a verdict awarding $1.3 Billion, based on its estimation of a hypothetical fair market value license between Oracle and SAP for the infringed software products. SAP challenged the award through post-trial motions (a procedural step before appeal). SAP argued that in this case the hypothetical license measure of damages was “unreasonable and unduly speculative” because Oracle had never licensed the infringed software in the past, and never would license the software to SAP. Without any evidence of actual “benchmark” licenses, SAP argued that the jury should not have speculated about the terms of a hypothetical license.

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