OAKLAND, Calif., July 13 (Reuters) - SAP AG asked a U.S.
court to dislodge a $1.3 billion verdict it was ordered to pay
to Oracle Corp, but the judge appeared just as interested in
whether the two software giants could settle the case.
The companies have not had any settlement talks since last
November's verdict, Oracle attorney Geoffrey Howard told U.S.
District Judge Phyllis Hamilton at a hearing on Wednesday. A
jury awarded Oracle $1.3 billion last November over accusations
that SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow wrongfully downloaded millions
of Oracle's files.
"There have been no discussions since the verdict," Howard
said. "We're always willing to listen."
Complicating any potential settlement talks are SAP's
requests that the judge slash the award, or throw the verdict
out entirely and order a new trial. Oracle argues the verdict
Another dynamic is a criminal investigation by U.S.
prosecutors into the events surrounding TomorrowNow. No charges
have been filed.
Hamilton said she had not yet decided how she would rule on
SAP's requests to disturb the verdict. However, she asked
attorneys for the two companies whether there was any
possibility of a settlement that would resolve the case.
"Hope springs eternal," responded SAP attorney Tharan
"Greg" Lanier, adding that SAP would be open to a mediation
Spokespeople from Oracle and SAP declined further comment.
Hamilton said it would take "some time" for her to fashion
a ruling on SAP's requests. If she accepts any of SAP's
arguments against the verdict, it will "complicate this in a
big way," Hamilton said.
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.
At the hearing in an Oakland, California court, Howard said
any potential discussion is also impacted by events after the
verdict. According to Howard, McDermott denied liability for
copyright infringement at a shareholder meeting, even though
SAP admitted liability at trial.
In response, Lanier said he was at the shareholder meeting,
and McDermott did not say that.
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.
Lanier argued at the hearing 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,"
The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of
California is Oracle USA, Inc., et al. v. SAP AG, et al,
For SAP: Robert Mittelstaedt, Jason McDonell and Elaine
Wallace, Tharan Lanier, Scott Cowan and Joshua Fuchs of Jones
For Oracle: Donn Pickett, Geoffrey Howard, Holly House,
Zachary Alinder and Bree Hann of Bingham McCutchen; Steven
Holtzman and Fred Norton of Boies Schiller & Flexner. Dorian
Daley and Jennifer Gloss of Oracle.
(Reporting by Dan Levine)