Losing $1.3 billion at trial is a crushing blow. SAP lost their case against Oracle.
SAP and Oracle have been rivals since anyone can remember. Unfortunately, over time, SAP took a few more liberties than they perhaps should have and crossed some lines in the sand. They were sued by Oracle and they lost; a huge loss of $1.3 billion. The court’s decision will have major ramifications for other companies when it comes to copyright infringement issues.
This particular loss was so large that the company may be faced with folding its tent and vanishing into the desert sands. It’s either that or appeal, an unappealing proposition given the nature of the decision and the court’s verdict.
The court’s decision was quite blunt about finding SAP to have been outrageously flagrant in swiping software and documents from Oracle’s secured websites. So outrageous in fact, that they also awarded Oracle just about all of the damages they wanted. Given that, and the fact that if SAP chooses to appeal, they can pretty much count of being the poster boy for really bad publicity, it is doubtful they will appeal. The bad publicity would be good for Oracle, but enough said about what it would do to SAP.
Since this particular trial took three years to grind to a close, SAP needs to carefully consider what their next step will be for the future. As the initial verdict was $3.1 billion, there is a chance that the award may be reduced. Nonetheless, the money involved is unbelievable; certainly a hard lesson about stealing from the competition. There is not much doubt that the company was tagged with unarguably one of the largest software piracy penalties anyone has ever seen.
SAP hasn’t been heard from that much since the decision was rendered, other than to say they are trying to figure out what to do next. No kidding. The interesting thing is that there is a chance they will pay the fine, whatever it may be, largely because they have at least $4.1 billion on hand to dip into, thanks to reserves stockpiled. Mind you, the $1.3 billion will still knock the stuffing right out of them for a while and mean a long, hard comeback to regain their reputation.
While it may not affect their sales, if they choose to pay and go forward, since they are a world leader in their area of expertise, they still learned a valuable lesson. And that lesson is: you have to be very cautious about copyright infringement, because even if you think it’s not a big deal swiping something from another person, you could potentially wind up paying out a lot of money.
The wild card here is that there may also be a criminal investigation. Where that may lead will likely be another story.