SAP AG has agreed to pay $306 million to resolve a long-running copyright infringement lawsuit by Oracle Corp. However, some are speculating the litigation may not really be over.
The case, which began in 2007, has a storied history. Oracle filed the lawsuit after discovering that an SAP unit had infringed certain Oracle software. Shortly before the trial began, SAP admitted that a former subsidiary, TomorrowNow, had illegally downloaded Oracle’s intellectual property.
The jury ultimately awarded Oracle $1.3 billion in damages, which remains one of the largest damages award for infringement of intellectual property. On appeal, however, the appellate court invalidated the award, concluding that the evidence did not support the high figure. A new trial on damages was scheduled to begin this month.
Despite the settlement, Oracle will still pursue an appeal seeking to reinstate the jury verdict, according to the Wall Street Journal. Also, SAP will not be required to pay the damages until after all appeals or new trials in the case are resolved. If Oracle wins a judgment that is less than $306 million in any subsequent ruling or trial, SAP will reportedly pay the difference under the terms of the settlement.
As this case highlights, large companies must be particularly mindful of the activities of their subsidiaries because they may ultimately be held responsible for any IP-related liability. Therefore, it is imperative to provide employee training across the board regarding what types of conduct can constitute infringement.