Judge rejects Oracle $US1.3bn verdict against SAP

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Judge rejects Oracle $US1.3bn verdict against SAP

Shaves a cool billion off damages award.

A US judge slashed over $US1 billion from Oracle's $US1.3 billion jury verdict against SAP, paving the way for a possible new trial in a years-long copyright infringement dispute.

In a ruling released on Thursday, US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton found that Oracle had proven actual damages of only $US272 million. She called for a new trial unless Oracle agreed to accept that amount.

Oracle shares fell 0.8 percent to close at $US27.85 on Nasdaq.

Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said there was "voluminous evidence" on the "tremendous value" of Oracle's stolen intellectual property.

"We believe the jury got it right and we intend to pursue the full measure of damages that we believe are owed to Oracle," Hellinger said.

A jury awarded Oracle $US1.3 billion last year over accusations that SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow wrongfully downloaded millions of Oracle files.

"The award of hypothetical license damages totalling $US1.3 billion was contrary to the weight of the evidence and was grossly excessive," Hamilton said in her ruling.

"The court grants the motion for a new trial as to actual damages" should Oracle reject the $US272 million figure.

SAP spokesman Jim Dever said the company is "very gratified" by the decision as it believed the verdict was wrong.

"We hope the court's action will help drive this matter to a final resolution," Dever said.

Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said a $US272 million damages award is still very rare in copyright litigation.

"Oracle still got a huge dollar amount in a copyright case, it still knocked TomorrowNow out of the marketplace, and it still got all the glory of having shined a negative spotlight on SAP," Goldman said.

Either Oracle and SAP could still appeal Hamilton's ruling, or they could settle, Goldman said.

The legal battle between two of the software industry's largest players captivated Silicon Valley. In 2010, a three-week trial included testimony from such top executives as billionaire Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Oracle President Safra Catz.

SAP's lawyers accused Ellison of plucking damages numbers "out of the air."

SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott also took the stand and apologized to Oracle for the events surrounding TomorrowNow.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Oracle USA, Inc., et al. v. SAP AG, et al, 07-1658.

(Reporting by Dan Levine, editing by Maureen Bavdek, John Wallace and Richard Chang)

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