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Appeals court 'skeptical' over Oracle's copyright infringement win over SAP

Oracle won $1.3 billion against SAP, but that was later thrown out by a district judge. Oracle wants that reinstated, but the third court to look at the case appears wary.
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Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor on
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Image: CNET/CBS Interactive

A U.S. appeals court "appeared skeptical" on Tuesday about handing Oracle a $1.3 billion damages package previously served by a jury, which was later overturned.

According to the Reuters news agency, Judge William Fletcher called Oracle's attorney's figures that were used to drum up the damages figure as "pie in the sky dreaming," which may lead to the software giant losing the damages it was first awarded.

But if Oracle doesn't get its way, seven years after the allegations first came to light, the company is gunning for a new trial, reported Bloomberg.

Oracle is taking on German enterprise software powerhouse SAP in a legal ding-dong that led to it admitting massive infringement of Oracle's copyright.

A jury awarded Oracle the billion-dollar-plus sum in 2010 after an SAP subsidiary, TomorrowNow, unlawfully downloaded millions of Oracle files. SAP bought the company to begin supporting Oracle customers at a lower cost than Oracle charged.

SAP came clean, but the dispute was how much the company should pay Oracle in damages. 

But later, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton found that Oracle had only been able to prove it had suffered damages of $272 million.

However, two of the judges in Tuesday's case suggested Oracle may in fact deserve a little over $300 million.

Oracle attorney Kathleen Sullivan said internal SAP documents showed the company had expected $900 million revenue by using its strategic acquisition in TomorrowNow to poach customers from Oracle. That figure was enough to convince the lower court that $1.3 billion would suffice for reasonable damages.

But one of the judges on the panel argued that those SAP revenue figures was an objective view of how much the copyrighted material was worth.

The judges did not say when they will issue a ruling on the case.

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