back to article Judge kneecaps Oracle's $1.3bn triumph over SAP

A federal judge has tossed out a November jury award would have seen SAP pay $1.3 billion to arch-rival Oracle for theft of its intellectual property. As reported by the AP, Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the US District Court in Oakland, California, called the original award "grossly excessive," and said that the damages should be …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How does the Judge get a Value less than that of SAP

    Oracle claim was US1.7bn, SAP believed ti should be just under US400M, but the judge in his wisdom thinks it should be $275M even less then what SAP thought it should be. Makes no sense to me. You would expect the value to be greater than SAP figure but less then Oracle's so how did the judge in his wisdom get a figure less than the SAP counter.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's this...

    sort of stupidity that has stopped me getting rotten apple devices for my company and has lead me to switch away from the ellison oracle (especially with their attitude toward Open Office) and, instead, purchase full SAP products and support contracts and convert all my internal and extarnally facing-servers to full open source.

    I wish I had an option to replace SAP, but curently I do not.

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    This is why we can't have nice things

    CEO with egos bigger than Will Smith's dong, playing either revolving door buddies or repeatedly hammering the Nuke Everything Now button through Induhlectual Proberty lawsuits decided by confused juries. A pox on all their houses.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Normally I'd agree. All this IP stuff is BS, most of the time. In this case, it's not so obvious:

      - a company decides to offer cut-rate maintenance for PeopleSoft (now Oracle) products

      - said company downloads PeopleSoft patches under various guises. None of which involve a right to redistribute those patches. But some presumably did include a subscription to products they, or their proxies, had licensed.

      - Then it turns around and kindly passes on the patches it had not developed on to its own customers and pockets the money.*

      Short of the work being Open Source, which it wasn't, I wonder exactly what gives them the right to do so.

      Unlike the BS IP lawsuits, the damages are pretty easy to quantify. 20% license fee maintenance. Which quickly adds up to >$100K/year even for a smallish customer.

      Should those maintenance fees be that high? No, they should not. Especially not for the service we get from Oracle on them.

      But TomorrowNow, the infringing company, which was bought by SAP, was definitely scamming. Personally, I see a lot more validity in a large award here than the crappy 6.2 B$ Oracle-Google Java stuff or the equally dimwitted Apple-Samsung tablet invention claims.

      * BTW, if you savor irony, this model is exactly the Unbreakable Linux leech of Red Hat. Minus the fact that Linux is Open Sourced.

    2. Eddy Ito Silver badge


      SAP picked a number that they were willing to pay and the judge picked one that he thought it was worth.

    3. Joe 35
      Thumb Down

      Talking of stupidity ...

      what do you mean by ."..especially with their attitude toward Open Office" - thats nothing to do with Oracle any more !

      Re moving everything to SAP, have you ever heard the expression "cutting off your nose to spite your face" ?

  4. ratfox Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    The less money these lawsuits bring, the better... Even if it means that their will be a retrial.

    H6242 - Kill the lawyers

  5. dogged

    I wouldn't sue

    Any indication that Oracle might be even slightly as revoltingly, unusably expensive and nonfunctional as SAP is worth several billions to avoid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Theft - premeditated

      Really you morons.

      TomorrowNow knowingly stole the property of the Oracle Corporation, and sold it onwards to Oracle software users as a replacement for Oracle's own service fees.

      This is theft and fencing.

      If I steal a TV from BestBuy and sell it to JoeUser for 50% of retail, I get charged with theft and dealing in stolen goods and get gaol time. TomorrowNow were tawdry little thieves and officers of that copmpany should do gaol time. There is no excuse for their behaviour - EVER.

      I do not care how much you 'tards in here hate Oracle (or Apple or whoever the freetard jealosy driven twisted minds hate this week), property is protected by law, and failure to understand this demonstrates how galactically ignorant you all are.

      Fuck it gets tiring looking for signs of intelligence on TheReg these days.


      Paris, because she constitutes "intelligent life" compared to ElReg readers.

      1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

        Re: Theft - premeditated

        Hey angry man ... calm down before you explode. dogged was simply making a sardonic point about the badness of SAP software.

        1. James Hughes 1

          @Angry Man

          SAP have admitted fault - the only argument is the cost of the damages.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Badness does not begin to describe SAP

          Angy? Me? That is funny ... I don't have a dog in the fight.

          but ... SAP is in fact worse than you could possibly, conceivably imagine. You need to have spent time "inside" SAP to understand the objective reality.

          I haven't used Oracle Financials (or whatever it is called) for years. It used to be marginal from a technical viewpoint. Peoplesoft, Deibold I never used.

          However, I think the TomorrowNow people should be hunted down, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and be thrown in gaol to rot for a while.

          1. dssf

            O Arena - Why not give each side rapiers and foils, and contain them

            in an open arena. Let them FENCE each other to death. The last pair standing - from either or both sides - can commit "THEFT" or collect booty in the form of the boots and footwear of those not standing. Maybe Ellison will join it... (But, in that case, not sure if all would turn on him for ascension reasons or revenge reasons, hehehehe).....

            Now, a name for THAT "arena". Just make sure the WALLS are "unbreakable" so the "contestants" cannot escape prematurely or immaturely.

      2. Gleb


        I read your entire post in the voice of Napoleon Dynamite. Made so much sense.

      3. NomNomNom


        'gaol' ? are we in the 19th century?

        1. Scott 53

          Re: huh?

          No, we're in England (well I am). That's how we spell the word.

      4. HP Cynic

        Calm down.

        Most people reading this are probably just thinking "yes it was clear theft and they deserved to be punished by a huge fine but $1.3bn was completely out of all proportion and the Judge is on the right track".

        Most of us then feel no need to comment on this (until in my case I was provoked by your sweeping attack on the readership at large).

      5. Peter Mc Aulay

        Copying software is not theft

        For theft to take place, something must be removed from the posession of someone else, who is deprived of the use of said something. Since the patches were just downloaded and not removed there is no theft, by definition.

        The word you're looking for is tort. Dweeb.

        One could argue that the customers were "stolen", but this is basically just about licence violation. Doesn't mean the people involved don't need shootin', mind you.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          Theft is a criminal offence. Oracle sued SAP for compensation for damages, that would be tort law (statutory or case) that covers this. One does not negate the existence of another nor prohibit the courts from adjudicating in either. "Theft" occurred and damages were incurred. Oracle wants recompense.

          In most jurisdictions, the definition of theft has been substantially extended to cover a wide variety of acts wherein the offender obtains material advantage at the expense of another by various means. Not all of these require a physical item to be physically removed from another's possession, though I grant that this was the original meaning of the "theft" offence (at least in the UK)

          "A person shall be guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it."

          These days, it's all bundled under "Fraud" in the UK and this covers a far wider range of enrichment activities.

          The software patches etc. were acquired knowingly, by deception, in the full and prior knowledge that said patches etc. were only available at a cost from the provider. While I cannot be bothered to look up the appropriate statutes where this happened, it is extremely likely that it was "theft" in a general sense and "theft" or "fraud" in a legal, criminal sense.

          Civil suits are where compensation is awarded, while criminal cases are where justice is metered out. That criminal charges have apparently not been brought against the officers of TomorrowNow (I did not hear about any, so there may have been) is a reflection of Oracle's interest versus society's interests, which are not even remotely the same in this case.

          Also, I am not angry. I have no dog in the fight. I do however, think that the average ElReg commentard is fundamentally ignorant of the matters upon which they opine. It seems to me that intelligent, informed commentary has all but disappeared from these pages.

          You are all entitled to have a different opinion.


          Downvote button this way --->

          1. kissingthecarpet

            Funny you should be using the Grammar Nazi icon

            I think justice is "meted" out rather than "metered" . I wouldn't have bothered but for your usage of epithets such as "dweeb" & statements suggesting that you are cleverer & better informed than probably everyone who comments here.

            I hope you don't use constructions like "low and behold" , "it was a mute point" or "he poured over the documents" , because you come across like someone who does.

            1. Anonymous Coward


              That was a typo, humble apologies.

              And yes, I knows how ta spel de uvver ones two, guv.


        2. dssf

          In the middle of TORT, if the word TART arose, would the judge fine them and

          them TARDS?


          Would tart apply to companies sparring and barbing each other when both sides are doing SOMEthing wrong?

          1. Anonymous Coward

            What is a tard?


      6. Rob Dobs

        Not theft really, these were "patches"

        I can't help but make correlations to mechanics fixing your car.

        Sure Toyota would love you to have to get gouged by their dealers, but its legal for one mechanic to purchase a manual, and learn to fix the car, and then offer that service. Granted I'm not totally defending SAP, or saying that they aren't a bunch of goons, they probably are, and I would agree with above poster that if they think they own $400 mil, that should be the LEAST they are made to pay. But still I think some of you (angry here) are missing the point that SAP did not STEAL software and pretend it was theirs. They simply offered more reasonably priced support contracts for Oracle products. Oracle still has to make their cut selling them the product, SAP just made it where Oracle couldn't bleed so much money out of their customers. These were patches (repairs) to their software, not a product, or something these customers wanted to buy, they already bought and paid for server/software and just wanted to cut the ever rising bleeding prices that Oracle was screwing out of their customers.

        I would think that any software company that produces a shoddy product should be subject to same laws as auto manufacturers are... if you release a patch that deals with fixing pre-existing bugs, that repairs broken (but promise) functionality or is just a repair for security, YOU SHOULD BE LEGALLY BARRED FROM CHARGING YOUR CLIENTS FOR IT. Sure new features and things the company has created should cost you more, but not for fixes to something that they sold you as a working software product, that later turned out to be BROKEN.

        If SAP had purely downloaded support docs, and patches and fixes, I would really think that what they were doing SHOULD be legal (though it may not be under current screwed up IP laws), as they are just offering a competing (and better run, lower cost to customer) repair operation. However not knowing the full details, and seeing as how they did suffer loss in court, I would imagine that SAP probably took this too far, and was trying to take everything oracle made and resell it....I have to guess the Judge felt this way too, and felt the 250mil was more fair of a punishment for someone just trying to compete.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          What you think is not at issue

          Alas, the law - civil, criminal, consumer and otherwise - does not agree with you.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down

          flawed analogy

          >Sure Toyota would love you to have to get gouged by their dealers, but its legal for one mechanic to purchase a manual, and learn to fix the car, and then offer that service.

          Software companies would love it if only their consultants (mechanics) could service their products. Doesn't happen, though they love to rent out newbie consultants for top $.

          But what if the mechanic used parts stolen from Toyota to service Toyota cars? Should that be legal?

          You have your opinion about patches being freely available. Sadly, that is not the law. Those patches are not open source and they are covered by a maintenance contract. Which is a gouge, I agree (perhaps SAP should show an example and lower their own fees?). If the customers wanted Open Source ERP systems, there are Open Source ERP systems they could have used. Though I am not sure I'd run a multi-billion dollar company on them either - ERP implementations have a tendency to go belly up even with the mature vendors.

          TomorrowNow (founded by ex PeopleSoft employees who allegedly left with the company jewels) misappropriated that property. End of story. Doesn't mean I like Ellison, Oracle or SAP.

  6. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    Throwing your toys out the pram

    I wonder what Oracle will throw at HP this time.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Ha Ha Larry

    Go tell it to Stark.

  8. Marcus Aurelius

    Oracle have little to lose

    By going for a retrial - as one presumes SAP will be re-admitting criminal offences before a US jury, and therefore Oracle will be getting at least what the judge thinks in any event. Gambling a few million for a much larger return is good odds.

    I can outline Oracles closing speech now:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, SAP thinks that they should only have to pay a nominal amount for their systematic grand theft. I hope you the jury show these scumbags that theft is never profitable and stick it to them for the $1.7B that our expert recommends, and not the pissy $400mill that their expert thinks they should get away with. You complain that companies who steal get away with it, now is your chance to make it right....

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Judge > jury?

      And the judge will tell the jury they got it wrong again, and reduce the damages amount a second time. So what's the point? Incidentally, I feel the same about judges who direct inquest juries that they're not allowed to consider a verdict of unlawful killing, whenever the poor sap happens to be a victim of the government. "Pick any decision you like, as long as it's -this one-"

      1. Marcus Aurelius

        Judges unlikely to overturn 2 juries.

        If a second jury comes out with similar figures, a judge is unlikely to overrule it.

        I don't think there's a case where a judge has cut down a damages award after a retrial. I can only think of the Jammie Thomas case where successive judges have pruned awards on matters of law.

    2. Rob Dobs

      depends on SAP's balance sheet

      247 million now (or payed out in payments over a year) is better than nothing when facing a sure 1.7 billion judgement for fraud SAP's investors dry up, the stock drops to zero, they have no leverage to retain and provide bonuses to executive staff, and then all the customers go away. Seen bigger companies dry up quicker. You can bleed something dry so to speak, and then ... no more blood.

  9. TonyJ Silver badge

    Not everyone in England is quite so angry.

    What I love with these kind of rants is how they're always posted anonymously.

    And as has been said before - I had no intention to reply until I read that rantogram. Take a pill or get laid or something.

    And whilst you're at it - was there really any need to be so personally insulting about the readership of an online rag?

  10. kain preacher Silver badge

    @Peter Mc Aulay

    I don't know were you get your definition from, but theft as defined in California (which is were the trials took place) and most of the US theft is defined as taking some thing that is not yours. Nothing about depriving . Simply taking some thing you are not allowed to take or using some thing you are not allowed to take .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      UK act

      The definition I used was from the recently repealed UK theft act, as I noted replaced by the more general fraud act. Another poster stated something highly consistent with the old theft act's original basic statement (I believe incorrectly suggesting I was incorrect). My point was that the theft act has been repealed and a broader notion is now law in the UK.

      It varies slightly from state to state in the US, as one might expect.


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