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Court fines SAP for downloading rival Oracle’s software

By Ed Oswald, Betanews

In what is being called the biggest judgment ever for software piracy, German business software provider SAP has been slapped with a .3 billion verdict for stealing rival Oracle’s software. At issue were the actions of TomorrowNow, a subsidiary SAP purchased in 2005.

TomorrowNow provided third party support for a host of applications, including those developed by Oracle. Oracle became suspicious and then filed suit after it noticed unusually high downloads by SAP, which came as a result of TomorrowNow downloading support materials and software from the Oracle website.

Oracle argues that SAP downloaded these materials illegally as a method to undercut Oracle’s own support options, which were offered at a much higher price. The original suit was filed in March 2007; TomorrowNow would later shut its doors in July of the following year.

“For more than three years, SAP stole thousands of copies of Oracle software and then resold that software and related services to Oracle’s own customers,” Oracle president Safra Catz said in a statement.

She added that SAP had admitted its wrongdoing even before the trial began, and its executives during the trial in questioning admitted they knew of TomorrowNow’s actions.

To its own defense, in a statement SAP admitted liability in the case. “The mark of a leading company is the way it handles its mistakes,” it said. “As stated in court, we regret the actions of TomorrowNow, we have accepted liability, and have been willing to fairly compensate Oracle.”

SAP would not rule out further court action, including appeal or any other post-trial options the company may have. It also claimed that the judgment would have no effect on its operating business or its revenue forecasts for this year.

Not everybody agrees the large verdict was necessary though, with some even calling it excessive. Forrester Research analyst Paul Hamerman told Computerworld that the small size of TomorrowNow didn’t warrant such a large judgment.

“The business that they were in was to fix glitches in software and make some compliance updates,” Hamerman said. “They weren’t trying to resell any of the software that they were downloading.”

Copyright Betanews, Inc. 2010

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