SAP to argue for new trial in Oracle lawsuit

The company will argue in court Wednesday it suffered a 'miscarriage of justice'

Lawyers for Oracle and SAP are due in court Wednesday to argue post-trial motions in their TomorrowNow lawsuit, with SAP seeking a new trial and a reduction of the US$1.3 billion jury award it was ordered to pay.

SAP contends the award granted to Oracle last November was "a miscarriage of justice" and "grossly excessive" based on the evidence presented at trial. It wants the court to reduce the damages to no more than $408 million.

Oracle has countered that the trial was fair and the verdict proper, and that SAP's motions "do little more than ask the Court to reverse legal rulings it has made and substitute SAP's interpretation of the evidence for the jury's decision."

The arguments, laid out in court papers earlier this year, are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Pacific Time in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California before Judge Phyllis Hamilton, who is overseeing the case.

Oracle sued SAP four years ago after it discovered SAP's TomorrowNow subsidiary had been downloading Oracle software and support materials illegally from an Oracle website. SAP never contested the downloads, and the trial was over how much it should pay.

The jury award was based on a so-called "hypothetical license," or the amount SAP would have paid had it licensed the software legally from Oracle at the time of the theft. Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison testified in court that such a license would have cost SAP $4 billion.

SAP wants the court to rule "as a matter of law" that Oracle was not entitled to a hypothetical license because it never would have agreed to such a license with SAP in the first place, and because, in any case, the amount was based on speculation.

Oracle said those arguments have already been rejected by the court and the jury. "First, as a matter of law, SAP is not allowed to re-argue the facts. ... Second, the evidence, viewed collectively -- as it must be -- was more than sufficient to support the jury's award (or even a higher one)," Oracle's lawyers wrote.

Oracle strongly opposes a new trial, but if one is granted, it wants it to include additional damages, including any "up-sell and cross-sell" profits Oracle may have lost as a result of the theft, which it says were improperly excluded from the first trial.

Judge Hamilton could rule on some of the motions in court Wednesday or take several weeks to consider the arguments. Depending on the outcome, SAP has said it intends to file a full appeal in the case. In the meantime, the damages awarded to Oracle are being held in escrow.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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