Oracle, SAP suit goes to jury with no one's dignity intact

Fight over "stolen" software focused as much on antics as intellectual property


After weeks of invective, posturing, outrageous demands and self-parodic attempts to serve and avoid subpoenas, the Oracle/SAP copyright infringement trial went to the jury this week.


The comically complex trial focuses on allegations by Oracle that an SAP subsidiary called TomorrowNow illegally downloaded information and software from Oracle and used it to prey on Oraclel customers.

[Update: $1.3 Billion damage award a clear victory for Oracle.]

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SAP conceded some of the charges and defended itself against the rest, but the real show was the public ranting and Red Rover Red Rover executive-recruitment plan that ended with the former CEO of SAP at the head of HP, former head of HP working for Oracle and the head of Oracle threatening everyone in sight.

Larry Ellison, who got grilled on the stand by SAP and hired former Microsoft nemesis David Boies to put the hurt on SAP, claimed damage to Oracle totaled $4 billion -- 242 percent more than the $1.65 billion his own lawyers suggested. SAP thought the number should be $40 million.

Difficult as it is to top Ellison in outrageous showmanship, former SAP CEO Leo Apotheker managed to land the silliest-behavior award for a top IT executive with hide-and-seek tactics to avoid being served subpoenas that would require him to take the stand.

The hunt, which became known as "Where's Leo?" by press and analysts following the trial, reached its comic peak not with Oracle's private investigators or HP's smoke and mirrors, but in an earnings call in which the usually dignified Apotheker got sophomoric when asked his location.

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