Judge's order narrows damages in Oracle-SAP suit

SAP applauds the judge's move, but a trial is still set for November

The scope of potential damages in Oracle's intellectual-property lawsuit against SAP has been lessened following a judge's order filed Tuesday.

The development follows SAP's Aug. 5 announcement that it would accept liability for some of Oracle's claims against its former subsidiary, TomorrowNow, in order to "focus" the sprawling case, which was first filed in 2007.

Oracle alleges that workers at TomorrowNow, which offered third-party support for Oracle applications, illegally downloaded software from Oracle's support systems.

SAP had said the employees were authorized to download the materials on behalf of TomorrowNow customers, but also acknowledged some "inappropriate downloads" had occurred. However, the information remained in TomorrowNow's systems and SAP had no access to it, according to SAP.

In an Aug. 5 joint pretrial statement, Oracle said it was entitled to billions of dollars in damages for copyright infringement, unjust enrichment and other alleged infractions. But SAP has said the true amount of damages is "tens of millions, at most."

The 25-page ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton "serves to narrow the scope of damages and help focus this case," SAP said in a statement Wednesday.

"SAP is committed to compensating Oracle for the harm the limited operations of TomorrowNow actually caused," SAP added. "That compensation must be reasonable and it must be tethered to reality and the law."

One Oracle claim had sought up to US$3.5 billion for product development costs that SAP "avoided and saved through its illegal business model, rather than competing fairly." The judge's order denied Oracle the ability to seek such damages, but ruled in favor of Oracle on a number of other counts, citing SAP's concessions.

The case is set to go to trial in November, but a settlement conference is scheduled for September.

An Oracle spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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