Back in 2010, a jury awarded Oracle $1.3 billion in damages in a copyright infringement case involving business management software company SAP’s illegal downloading and resale of Oracle software. Basically, SAP was using a company called TomorrowNow to access Oracle databases with former Oracle customer info, downloading copyrighted content, and then reselling it to Oracle customers for half the price. The $1.3 billion verdict was the largest ever for a copyright infringement case, and also the largest jury award in the U.S. of 2010.
Still, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton ended up reducing the damages to $272 million, and Oracle has decided to commence with a retrial, and is now seeking $776.7 million from SAP. The retrial is set for June 18th in Oakland, CA. Oracle claims its new figure regarding its damages claim will be backed up by an “updated analysis and additional evidence to support the infringers’ profits and lost profit amounts.” The almost $777 million comprises $120.7 million in Oracle’s lost profits, and $656 million in SAP’s profits.
Jim Dever, speaking on behalf of SAP, states that the damages are more like $28 million, adding, “We think Oracle’s damage estimate is overstated.” Naturally.
Interestingly, the original jury award in the Oracle/SAP case was partly based on a the price of a “hypothetical license.” This is essentially the main point of contention in Oracle’s ongoing trial against Google over Java API patent infringement. While Google didn’t so blatantly manipulate Oracle wares in an illegal fashion, there is a chance that a jury might find that Google did require a sort of “hypothetical license” for portions of Java used in the development of the its Android operating system. The cost of this sort of license could be astronomical. The jury in the Google vs. Oracle case should present a verdict within the next day or two.
While SAP admitted to wrongdoing and that they owe damages, Google has remained vague and evasive on the stand when questioned by Oracle’s legal team. Still, some fear that a jury siding with Google might set a precedent for the manipulation of open-source software. A facet of Oracle’s business model seems to have evolved into collecting on its free software if someone else makes any money off of it.