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SAP to pay Oracle $1.3 billion in damages

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Business software maker SAP said Tuesday it has been ordered to pay $1.3 billion to Oracle for copyright infringement by its now-defunct software maintenance unit.

The Oracle-SAP case, which was heard in U.S. district court in Oakland, Calif., was a high-profile war between two tech giants. The copyright suit revolved around SAP's TomorrowNow unit, which admitted to using information from documents it had illegally downloaded to try to poach customers from Oracle.

A representative for Oracle could not immediately be reached for comment.

Oracle filed the suit in March 2007, and SAP shut down TomorrowNow in late 2008. SAP admitted liability, offering to pay $40 million in damages, but Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500) balked at the offer, claiming it was owed billions. This month's court case was called to decide how much Oracle is really owed.

Oracle made the situation more complicated by bringing Léo Apotheker into the fray. Apotheker is now the CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500), which isn't involved in the suit. But Oracle insisted Apotheker knew its software had been stolen while he was the CEO of SAP (SAP).

Then Oracle said it wanted to call Apotheker to the stand, but it couldn't locate him.

HP stepped in to defend Apotheker, saying Oracle had "ample opportunity" to question him during sworn deposition in October 2008. HP noted Oracle didn't name Apotheker as a trial witness until he took the top post at HP, claiming Oracle was intentionally "interfer[ing] with his [new] duties and responsibilities."

Tuesday's federal jury award to Oracle ends the weeks-long case, which started on Nov. 1 -- coincidentally the same day that Apotheker took his post at HP.

German-based SAP isn't pleased with the result. A spokesman said in a prepared statement that the company is planning post-trial motions and an appeal if necessary.

"The mark of a leading company is the way it handles its mistakes," the spokesman said. "As stated in court, we regret the actions of TomorrowNow, we have accepted liability, and have been willing to fairly compensate Oracle." To top of page

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