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Oracle Software The Almighty Buck The Courts

SAP Ordered To Pay $1.3 Billion To Oracle 151

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-a-check? dept.
bdcny7927 writes with news that a jury decided to award Oracle $1.3 billion in their lawsuit against SAP after deliberating for less than a day. "The verdict ... is the biggest ever for copyright infringement and the largest US jury award of 2010, according to Bloomberg data. The award is about equal to SAP’s forecasted net income for the fourth quarter, excluding some costs, according to the average estimate of analysts... SAP spokesman Bill Wohl said the German software maker will pursue all available options, including post-trial motions and will appeal if necessary."
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SAP Ordered To Pay $1.3 Billion To Oracle

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  • I don't understand how an automated download equals copyright infringement, which from my read of TFA was the central issue. Can someone explain this to me? Because otherwise, quite a few websites are going to be sued for a lot of money for providing links to other websites... something I thought we had moved past as "infringement".

    • by bonch (38532)

      The article says SAP made "hundreds of thousands of illegal downloads and several thousand copies of Oracle's software to avoid paying licensing fees and steal customers."

    • http://www.cmswire.com/cms/enterprise-cms/sap-admits-liability-in-oracle-software-piracy-case-009028.php [cmswire.com]

      Can the obligatory /. defense for anything related to copyright infringement, unless of course it is related to the GPL.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 29, 2010 @06:23PM (#34381592)

      Basically SAP was illegally distributing Oracles software. They were also copying Oracles patches and reworking them so they would work with the pirated oracle software. Think of it as somebody selling bootleg windows and also supplying bootleg patches.

      SAP admitted to having done it. It was estimated that if they had been selling legal licenses and service contracts it would have been anywhere between 560 million and 3 billion, so 1.3 billion is a middle ground figure.

      This is one fight where Oracle actually isn't being evil and was legitimately getting ripped off.

      • At last, a nice summary. Now it would be interesting to know how could the SAP managers be so stupid to do or allow that.

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Monday November 29, 2010 @07:23PM (#34382196) Journal

      Well since I can't remember seeing real troll behavior from you I'll assume you are really confused and explain: Support. Just like you can buy Windows 7 in everything from Starter to Ultimate with different features included, with Oracle you get different levels of support and downloads for different tiers. What SAP did was pretend to be Oracle customers and download ALL the features and extras for ALL the levels of support and then proceeded to undercut them on their own product. It would be like you going to Apple stores and setting up your "brand new Hackintosh RAZR1911 Edition" for sale. Needless to say that didn't go over well.

      So I really don't see how SAP can bitch. They bought a company whose entire business plan was based on theft, admitted the company was stealing, and now they have to pay the price. You can't just let companies like this off on whatever the cost of the theft was, otherwise I could steal from you and if caught just give back the original while keeping the interest. the judgment has to be nasty to deter others who would do the same thing. But no matter what you think of Oracle they have the right to sell their software anyway they choose, and the company SAP bought stole patches and support that they had no right to and for a profit.

  • by syousef (465911) on Monday November 29, 2010 @04:46PM (#34380240) Journal

    $1.3 billion eh? By RIAA accounting standards that sounds to me like they may have copied 7, or maybe even 8 songs! Burn!!!

  • Jingoism? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So... an American jury finds in favor of an American company in an American court, and orders a foreign company to pay a huge sum after almost no deliberation at all.

    Am I the only one reminded of how all-white juries always used to find in favor of the white victims, in courts staffed with all whites, after almost no deliberation at all, when the defendants were black? If it had been SAP suing Oracle, would the outcome have been the same, and would it have come as quickly?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If SAP doesn't like it then they can cease to doing business in America and with American companies.

      • by OzPeter (195038) on Monday November 29, 2010 @04:55PM (#34380390)

        If SAP doesn't like it then they can cease to doing business in America and with American companies.

        Please Santa, I've been a good boy and its not like I have ever asked you for much before.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by CODiNE (27417)

        Dude, why you arguing with yourself like that? It's kinda creepy.

      • by Anrego (830717) *

        they can cease to doing business in America

        Careful.. you're going to over-excite everyone..

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        Actually, no it wouldn't matter. Germany is a signatory to the WCT which obligates it to honor US copyright and copyright decisions in US courts when the jurisdiction is there.

        It's as some would say "international law".

      • First thing first: SAP did break the law and they deserve to suffer.

        That being said:
        When Intel and Microsoft got fined Billions in the EU, people where saying basically the same: 'If they aren't willing to stick to the European rules, they should stop doing business there.'

        Yet a very vocal crowd here and elsewhere where calling the EU descisions 'Anti-American'.
        So, can I now start talking about how Anti-German/Anti-European the Americans are?

    • SAP in fact tried buying Oracle off but I guess their offer wasn't high enough. The trial mainly existed to determine the size of the fine.
    • You're fucking joking [zdnet.com], right? [msn.com]

      It's totally different though, I guess. SAP got a trial.

    • by si3n4 (540106)
      Thank God no European nation ever had a court system rigged against a minority - then every decision they made today would be suspect too. Go ahead and complain if you have the facts that bear on the case but spare us the historical references...
    • by westlake (615356) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:51PM (#34381198)

      So... an American jury finds in favor of an American company in an American court, and orders a foreign company to pay a huge sum after almost no deliberation at all.

      SAP abandoned - in August - any pretense of contesting Oracle's claims of copyright infringement. SAP Proposes Not to Contest Oracle's Copyright Claims [businessweek.com]

      That implies as well that SAP had accepted the jurisdiction of the U.S. federal court.

      SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- On the losing end of a $1.3 billion jury verdict for stealing a rival's intellectual property, SAP AG is facing the difficult decision about whether to double down -- by appealing -- or folding.
      Either route is going to cost the German company dearly, and will have implications for how other technology companies approach copyrights.
      A jury in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday found that SAP's behavior in plundering software and documents from archenemy Oracle Corp.'s secured websites was so egregious that it awarded Oracle nearly all of the damages it was seeking.
      If SAP appeals, it will have to endure several more years of disastrous publicity, a jackpot for Oracle.
      "I'm not sure what the grounds for an appeal are -- I'm not sure what the argument would be," said Patrick Walravens, an analyst with JMP Securities. "It's not like this was a trial that was done in a quick and dirty manner. It was three years and hundreds of millions in legal fees -- things were pretty well vetted."
      The judge in the case still has to formally affirm the jury's verdict, and could reduce the award. An order could come sometime in the next week.
      Many analysts suspect that SAP will stand down and try and figure out a way to pay one of the biggest software piracy penalties on record. Doing so would put the $10 million acquisition of the tiny, now-shuttered company called TomorrowNow that landed SAP in this mess that much farther in the rearview mirror.
      SAP at a crossroads after losing $1.3B verdict [yahoo.com]

    • SAP isn't a person it's a corporation, people need to stop blurring the lines between them. It also entered the American market completely voluntarily.
    • Re:Jingoism? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ffreeloader (1105115) on Monday November 29, 2010 @07:33PM (#34382344) Journal

      This is a raft of crap written by someone who wants things their own way 100% of the time. I seem to remember the EU fining American companies several billion dollars.

      Should American's complain that all those EU fines were just EU jingoism?

      To tell the truth I don't see any jingoism going on at all, in either case, as this doesn't fit the description of jingoism. Jingoism is feverish excitement for a nation, not a company, unless you're trying to say that SAP == Germany, and that Oracle == US. I can't see how that is even close to being logical thinking, nor have I ever met anyone dumb enough to think that way. In fact, I don't know of anyone who is familiar with how Oracle and SAP do business who really likes either one of them. People may invest in either company in hopes of getting a return on their investment, but actually like either company? That's a horse of another color.

      • And for a lot of money. You can look it up if you want. OTOH A lot of us remember the slap on the face MS got , from the US court, and if one want to call it a slap. And the other non story where nothing happened.
      • by Marcika (1003625)

        This is a raft of crap written by someone who wants things their own way 100% of the time. I seem to remember the EU fining American companies several billion dollars.

        Should American's complain that all those EU fines were just EU jingoism?

        To tell the truth I don't see any jingoism going on at all, in either case, as this doesn't fit the description of jingoism. Jingoism is feverish excitement for a nation, not a company, unless you're trying to say that SAP == Germany, and that Oracle == US. I can't see how that is even close to being logical thinking, nor have I ever met anyone dumb enough to think that way.

        Usually this is not the case with publicly listed multinational corporations, but if any of them can be assigned a nationality, it's SAP and Oracle: In both cases, ownership is extremely heavily concentrated in their country of origin -- in Oracle's case partly due to Larry's ~25% holding and in SAP's case due to the fact that the founders (Plattner, Tschira, Hopp) each still own 10% of the company. Since they are actually resident in their respective countries and actually are spending their wealth there,

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      Why would it have been any different if the roles were reverses?

      Seriously, the facts in the case as I understand it was that SAP or a company purchased by SAP was downloading Oracle's software and reselling it at a serious discount to Oracle's own offering without permission to copy, distribute, or alter the software updates to work with the cracked versions. Also as I understand it, SAP admitted to this in court.

      I don't see anything being different giving a reversal of the roles in place. But hey, nice way

    • Um, you do realize that this was a VERY open-and-shut case, right? SAP made a business out of selling pirated software. They admitted to it. This verdict is absolutely NO surprise, nor is the short deliberation period. Comparing this to racial cases is beyond stupid.
    • by afabbro (33948)

      You are stone crazy. What kind of crazy-on-drugs T.A. is stuffing your head full of these buzzwords, boy? You're comparing a very cut-and-dried copyright violation case where the jury was decided damages to racist lynchings.

      If you really can draw a parallel there, you're beyond help. Please get a vasectomy and stop voting.

  • by Michael O-P (31524) on Monday November 29, 2010 @04:55PM (#34380380) Journal
    ...LAST WEEK when it was actually news.
    • by achbed (97139)

      Slashdot is getting so slow on news that it's going backwards. Current -6 days. Methinks ./ is now nuked from my daily check.

  • The big boys are duking it out, nice to see some damage instead of the grandmother downloading a music mp3 and having to pay 50,000$. This is more of what the patent trolls were meant for, not for the end user not making money off the file sharing with another individual.

    • Grandmas that download a few songs. They were heavy pirates, it's just that they were prosecuted for a subset of songs. The heaviest pirates are targeted with lawsuits, it doesn't make sense to take random Grandmas to court. But I realize that the tech sites like Slashdot didn't report on that little tidbit and I will probably be voted down for mentioning it.
      • Grandmas that download a few songs. They were heavy pirates, it's just that they were prosecuted for a subset of songs. The heaviest pirates are targeted with lawsuits, it doesn't make sense to take random Grandmas to court. But I realize that the tech sites like Slashdot didn't report on that little tidbit and I will probably be voted down for mentioning it.

        Plenty of grandmas were sued, and this has been widely publicized, but they chose to settle. The difference between the people who went to court and those who did not was a willingness to settle, not the sympathy of the RIAA.

        For reference, this award to Oracle is about the same as a jury would award based on the Thomas case if SAP had shared 100 gigabytes of music, which isn't much more than what the average college student shared on the network at my school.

      • your lack of citations shows that you don't even believe this bull. Better find a new job, the RIAA won't pay much for such a poor level of toadying.
  • One day a lynch mob will go to Oracle's HQ and burn the place down.. deservedly so. I'm just amazed at how fast a company can become the no.1 villain in the Computer industry..
  • Oracle please just go away already I'm sick of seeing you in the news all the time...
  • Oracle was putting on a good show while SAP tried to counter with facts. Since a bored, clueless jury is a thankful audience, the showman wins...

    • Since SAP admitted to the piracy, I wonder what "facts" you are referring to?
      • by makomk (752139)

        The facts that would indicate this is an absurdly large payment to demand, I would assume. (As in, orders of magnitude larger than the total income of the SAP subsidiary doing the pirating, amongst other things.)

        • by nelsonal (549144)
          I'd guess a fence probably sells their goods for far less than retail, too.
          • by makomk (752139)

            I'd guess a fence probably sells their goods for far less than retail, too.

            In theory, the money that Oracle would've received isn't going towards providing the stuff SAP pirated - it's going towards providing support services, of which access to these update files is just a tiny part. Likewise, the payments to SAP's subsidiary were also for support services, and these files were again just a small part of what they provided.

      • by mseeger (40923)

        Exactly: They admitted to the fact they were selling software maintenance they were not entitled to. So the damage for Oracle would be the list price of those maintenance contracts. Oracle put up a show that "american" jobs would be on the line if not every download was treated like a lost enterprise license.

        I have even sympathy for the Oracle side: Having to sell maintenance against a competitor which has not the necesary rights to do so, is a real pain. I know that from my own history. But the damage awar

  • by meustrus (1588597) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <surtsuem>> on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:19PM (#34380772)
    It really bugs me that there seem to be these stories, mostly about copyright-related lawsuits, where the OP assumes that everyone on Slashdot knows what the lawsuit was about. Well, I don't know what Oracle sued SAP for, and if I did I forgot. Who can keep these acronyms and company names straight anyway? If it were just once I wouldn't be bothered to RTFA but I shouldn't have to RTFA just to understand the summary of a story that normally I wouldn't care that much about. These things seem to come up once every couple of days though.
    • by meustrus (1588597)
      And even after RTFA I still don't feel like I know what the lawsuit was about. Something about SAP automating downloads and stealing customers. The facts are buried in the article, as if we all know what the trial was about because all copyright infringement is the same. Business-to-business copyright infringement for the purpose of stealing profits is MUCH DIFFERENT on a structural and ethical level than individual infringement for the purpose of getting some bits for free.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MobyDisk (75490)

      I used to have this problem with Slashdot, then I started to realize that I was just reading too many articles. If I forgot what it was about, I was probably getting worked-up and angry over something I shouldn't be. Since this realization, I've become much happier, concentrating on those subjects that I really do have an interest in, rather than those that Slashdot headlines make me think I am interested in but forget about last week.

    • by jd2112 (1535857)
      SAP isn't an acronym, is what they consider thier customers. To a somewhat lesser extent, so does Oracle,
    • If it were just once I wouldn't be bothered to RTFA but I shouldn't have to RTFA just to understand the summary of a story that normally I wouldn't care that much about. These things seem to come up once every couple of days though.

      How much are you paying for this service again? Probably nothing unless you are a subscriber, so It's better than a sharp stick in the eye after all.

  • Damages should be based on the amount of profits Oracle lost and SAP gained from the customers who left Oracle due to the infringement, Bob Mittelstaedt, SAP’s attorney, told the jury.

    Ummm...no. Damages should also be based on some sort of "punishment" factor. I would think it is important to prevent companies from simply writing off illegal activities and paying off some trivial amount of money in the even they get caught.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vux984 (928602)

      Ummm...no.

      Ummm... yes.

      Damages should also be based on some sort of "punishment" factor.

      Damages by definition really should be based on how much DAMAGE was caused.

      A punitive fine in addition to damages may be appropriate though.

      I would think it is important to prevent companies from simply writing off illegal activities and paying off some trivial amount of money in the even they get caught.

      Even if the "activities" only caused trivial damage?

      • by Marcika (1003625)
        Posting to undo negative moderation... I actually agree with you.
      • Who determines what "trivial" is? Obviously the jurors in this trial decided the damage was non-trivial.
      • by nelsonal (549144)
        I would think it is important to prevent companies from simply writing off illegal activities and paying off some trivial amount of money in the even they get caught.

        Even if the "activities" only caused trivial damage?


        If I regularly shoot bullets in random directions in my city, I can probably get away with trivial damages most of the time too. Would you think a fair penalty is simply to have me pay for the windows I shoot out?
        • by vux984 (928602)

          If I regularly shoot bullets in random directions in my city, I can probably get away with trivial damages most of the time too. Would you think a fair penalty is simply to have me pay for the windows I shoot out?

          I think that would be a fair assessment of the damages.

          That said, I also think you should be fined heavily, or even imprisoned for the clearly reckless and dangerous behavior, but that is a separate issue from the damages.

  • I wonder how a small firm like TomorrowNow with 400 service-contracts - and a net profit of ~50 mio. USD in the time frame in question - can make a such a damage.
    A, maybe it's because Oracle bought the companies who made the software TomorrowNow was offering services for...

    head.bang->desk();

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      You are looking at this wrong, look at it THIS way: If I made $100,000 selling hot copies of "Windows 7 all editions 32+64 bit activated" DVDs for $1 a piece, did I only cause $100,000 worth of lost sales to MSFT? I think not. They were using STOLEN software to undercut the ones that WROTE the software, no different than someone trying to sell burnt DVDs or Hackintoshes loaded with hot copies of OSX on the street corner.

      To me the telling part of this case is the former CEO hid out to keep from getting su

  • The ridiculous fines the EU imposed on Microsoft a decade too late.

  • Does that average out to $699 per Linux user?

  • One of my first managers was joking with us, and stated, "Only here, does some little guy like me have the opportunity to run a 10 million Deutsche Mark project aground!"

    How do the SAP folks responsible feel about causing $1.3 billion in damages? Has anyone's head rolled for this?

    I could only dream of being able to do this, "Oh, hi, boss . . . there's a little small matter that we need to talk about. I made a tiny boo boo, and it is going to cost the company $1.3 billion."

    Yo.

  • Don't do business in or with the USA until they get there justice system sorted out and into the current century. It's just too dangerous and you will always loose to a patriotic non-professional jury that has no knowledge about law and no knowledge about the subject that provoked the lawsuit in the first place. Just look elsewhere for good customers. Asia comes to mind here. That will be where the money is being earned in 15 years from now anyway.
    • by Pro923 (1447307)
      Oh please... The EU was going after and continues to attack Microsoft for every penny they can get out of them.
      • by santax (1541065)
        And rightfully so. A monopoly is a bad thing. Not comparable with so called copyright infringement.
      • by makomk (752139)

        The EU fine was but a tiny, tiny proportion of what Microsoft made by violating the law there. Which is why they continued to flout the law for as long as possible, even though complying immediately would've significantly reduced their fine.

    • Lose and loose are different words.

      Oh and SAP already admitted guilt, the jury was tasked with setting the award. Sorry if that puts a damper on your little USA bash.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by santax (1541065)
        It's not about the conviction. It's about the insane amount of damages for copyright infringement. Has nothing to do with USA-bashing. It's called criticism of a backwards justice system. Sorry if that's to much to handle for you.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by afabbro (33948)

          It's not about the conviction. It's about the insane amount of damages for copyright infringement. Has nothing to do with USA-bashing. It's called criticism of a backwards justice system. Sorry if that's to much to handle for you.

          SAP's annual revenue is more than $10 Billion a year. They are one of the top five publishers of software in the world. Do you think a $5,000 fine would really get their attention?

          SAP (actually, one of their subsidiaries) clearly stole a ton of Oracle's products and sold them for profit. They admitted this. This is not a 99-cent iTunes track, but rather software that sells for $40,000+ per CPU. Additionally, they stole patches and knowledgebase articles so they could sell support on the software they s

          • by Compaqt (1758360)

            Thanks for a breath of fresh air.

            It has unfortunately become a Slashdot trend to hate Oracle, even for no reason whatsoever.

    • by Lifyre (960576)

      While I'm not judging the validity of your basic premise, though it does seem a tad extremist. SAP was actually in the wrong here and they've effectively admitted as much so you might be banging your drum at the wrong parade...

      • by santax (1541065)
        Yeah I used some big words, have to give you that. It's just a lot of frustration whenever I see these ridiculous (at least to me) claims. Now it's a big company tomorrow it's another single mom who downloaded 10 songs. The part that is most frustrating for someone coming from a country with a (again in my opinion) better/more fair justice-system is that the USA is forcing their system to the whole world with acta. And in the end, we all suffer so 0.0001% of the richest people in the world can become even r
        • by gmhowell (26755)

          Is it only a matter of time before the Dutch legal system becomes as perverse in this area as the US? How much of the Berne Convention mandates this sort of behaviour on the signatories?

          • by santax (1541065)
            Skip this part to the summary if you wish: I think it is only a matter of time. Measured in months, maybe years but certainly not decades. Our government has always been very friendly to the USA with reasons unknown to the general public. One might suspect threats with economical disadvantages for our trade-position. I think ACTA says it all. As it is now, it is perfectly legal for us to download movies and songs for our own use. We even pay a fee on every blanc cdrom/dvd for it. Even when I personally onl
            • by gmhowell (26755)

              You aren't the only ones with little->no say in representation, particularly when it comes to treaties. It's not 'the US' that is running roughshod over Holland (Netherlands?), it is the multinational corporations running all of us, Americans and foreigners (hehe) alike.

              • by santax (1541065)
                You are right. That is (as far as i'm concerned) indeed the cause of losing our rights. I should put it like that in the future.
    • How about foreign companies doing business in the USA not breaking the local laws? Maybe you should read up on the facts of the case. SAP admitted to copyright infringement and the case was just to determine damages.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by santax (1541065)
        Yes, that would be a valid point, but still the damages aren't damages... This is pure profit for Oracle. And a confession in the USA isn't worth anything in the rest of the world. We all seen the figures about how many people would rather plead guilty for a crime they didn't do in order to avoid the life-destroying sentences. So a confession just doesn't hold any true value. But even when really guilty (let's assume they are guilty of simplicity) this is just pure profit. And I bet a couple of those non-kn
  • Oracle Corp. won a $1.3 billion jury verdict against rival SAP AG, the world’s largest maker of business application software, for copyright infringement by a now-defunct software maintenance unit.

    The jury yesterday awarded the damages after an 11-day trial in federal court in Oakland, California. Oracle sued SAP in 2007 claiming its U.S.-based unit made hundreds of thousands of illegal downloads and several thousand copies of Oracle’s software to avoid paying licensing fees and steal customers.

    I hate SAP as much as anybody else, but I also hate Oracle (if Larry Ellison was standing here now, I'd kick him in the balls so hard, no backup would ever fix the resulting problem for him in this life time)

    But saying that SAP paying 1.3 BILLION is fair?

    ‘Fair Number’

    The panel looked at “the scope, the duration and the timing” of TomorrowNow’s conduct, the foreman said. The $1.3 billion, which was less than the $1.7 billion Oracle’s expert had recommended, took into account all the elements of damages to Oracle that had occurred, he said.

    “We thought that was a fair number,” the foreman said.

    “If you take something from someone and you use it, you have to pay,” Bangay, 57, an auto body technician, said.

    - Oh, man, I hope for the sake of this guy, he never takes anything and just uses it without any payment upfront. No video, no song, no book, no other mechanic's tools.

    • by Compaqt (1758360)

      1.3 bil is small potatoes for SAP.

      >- Oh, man, I hope for the sake of this guy, he never takes anything and just uses it without any payment upfront. No video, no song, no book, no other mechanic's tools.

      Comparing some sap to SAP is more than unfair:
      -They used the copyrighted material for profit
      -SAP's a huge corporation, not a small business or a sole proprietorship
      -They themselves earn their profits under IP laws
      -They have the ability to afford competent counsel

      They did not just pick up a screwdriver to

  • This is a taste of what's to come for the Google / Java lawsuit. Bye bye Android.
  • Oracle could have paid each juror $10 million and still had a massive ROI.
    Larry Ellison winning anything is always bad news for humanity in toto.

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