SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court indicated that the bitter legal tussle between business software maker Oracle Corp. and rival SAP over a jury's $1.3 billion copyright infringement verdict should head back to a trial court for more litigation
The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard oral arguments in the case on Tuesday.
The 7-year-old legal battle revolves around SAP's $10 million acquisition of a small software services firm TomorrowNow that had promised to help corporate customers and government agencies maintain the applications that they had purchased from Oracle. After SAP took over TomorrowNow in 2005, Oracle uncovered evidence that TomorrowNow was breaking into Oracle's computers to steal instruction manuals and other technical information about copyrighted software.
Oracle filed a lawsuit in 2007 and trial started three years later. SAP acknowledged much of the misconduct alleged by Oracle, but argued damages weren't much more than $40 million.
A jury decided otherwise and awarded Oracle $1.3 billion. But a trial judge in 2011 called the verdict in favor of Oracle excessive and reduced it by about $1 billion. Oracle appealed to the 9th Circuit.
On Tuesday, 9th Circuit Judge Susan Graber said the final award "seems low given the evidence." Graber's colleague, Judge William Fletcher, also expressed disagreement with damages awarded Oracle. None of the three judges on the panel offered a figure of their own and the case could be sent back to the trial court judge for another trial over damages.