July 13, 2011 / 7:54 AM / 6 years ago

SAP attacks $1.3 billion Oracle verdict at hearing

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Oracle Corp and SAP AG have not had any settlement talks since a $1.3 billion verdict against SAP last November, an attorney for Oracle said in court.

<p>Shareholders arrive for the German software group SAP general shareholder assembly in Mannheim, May 25, 2011. REUTERS/Alex Domanski</p>

A Northern California jury awarded Oracle $1.3 billion last November over accusations that SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow wrongfully downloaded millions of Oracle’s files.

SAP has asked the federal judge in the case to slash the award or to throw the verdict out entirely and order a new trial. Oracle argues the verdict was proper.

At a hearing on Wednesday in Oakland, California, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton said she had not yet decided how she would rule on SAP’s requests.

However, Hamilton asked attorneys for the two companies whether there was any possibility of a settlement.

“Hope springs eternal,” responded SAP attorney Tharan “Greg” Lanier, adding that SAP would be open to a mediation session.

Oracle attorney Geoffrey Howard said Oracle had not been recently approached.

“There have been no discussions since the verdict,” Howard said. “We’re always willing to listen.”

Last year’s three-week trial, which captivated Silicon Valley, featured testimony from such top executives as Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison -- whom SAP’s lawyers accused of plucking damages numbers “out of the air” -- and Oracle President Safra Catz.

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

During the trial, Oracle linked former SAP chief and current Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker to the operations of TomorrowNow. But it did not appear to produce evidence to prove Apotheker knew of any theft.

SAP acknowledged wrongdoing at trial but argued it should pay no more than $40 million. In its request to slash the award, SAP asked Hamilton to use a damages methodology that would put the figure at $28 million to $408.7 million.

At the hearing, Lanier argued that Oracle had not proved a causal connection between the copyright infringement and the damages it sought.

“No reasonable jury could have come to this verdict without speculation,” Lanier said.

But Howard said Hamilton should not overturn the award.

“There is no basis on which to second-guess the jury,” Howard said.

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

Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Steve Orlofsky

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