Oracle Corp can't appeal an order slashing its $1.3 billion copyright infringement verdict against SAP AG until it decides whether it will reject the lower, court-imposed damages award, a U.S. judge ruled on Friday.
A Northern California jury determined that Oracle should be paid $1.3 billion over accusations SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow wrongfully downloaded millions of Oracle files. The 2010 trial captivated Silicon Valley and included testimony from such top executives as billionaire Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Oracle President Safra Catz.
However, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton last year found that Oracle had proven actual damages of only $272 million. Hamilton said Oracle could accept a $272 million award or opt for a new trial against SAP.
Oracle sought to immediately appeal Hamilton's decision, but Hamilton in an order on Friday denied the request.
If Oracle rejects the $272 million award, Oracle could proceed with a new trial against SAP, and then appeal after that, she ruled.
Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined to comment.
James Dever, a spokesman for SAP, said the company is pleased with Hamilton's ruling.
We hope this is another step towards bringing this to a final resolution, Dever said.
Hamilton's order did not spell out whether Oracle could accept the $272 million figure, and then appeal.
Chris Scott Graham, a California IP lawyer who is not involved in the case, said it would be extremely difficult for Oracle to accept the $272 million and then try to have the $1.3 billion verdict reinstated on appeal - provided SAP doesn't appeal, either.
The case would be, more likely than not, over, Graham said.
However, if Oracle accepts the $272 million but SAP appeals that award as too high, then Oracle would have more room to make a legal argument for the full $1.3 billion, Graham said.
TomorrowNow pleaded guilty to 12 criminal counts in September, and agreed to pay a $20 million fine. Under that deal, U.S. prosecutors agreed they not charge SAP with any criminal wrongdoing.
The civil case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Oracle USA, Inc., et al. v. SAP AG, et al, 07-1658.
(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Mark Porter and Richard Chang)