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Jury deliberating Oracle's $1.7-billion suit against German rival SAP

SAP acknowledges 'mistakes,' but says damage claim is 'vastly overstated'

Jurors began deliberating Monday in a closely watched lawsuit in which Oracle Corp. of Redwood Shores and Pleasanton accused German rival SAP AG of copyright infringement by improperly downloading millions of files.

In the packed courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton, Oracle lead attorney David Boies told jurors that SAP should be ordered to pay at least $1.7 billion from what he alleges was massive and indiscriminate downloading of software and support materials from an Oracle support website.

SAP, which is one of the world's largest business software firms, has admitted that TomorrowNow, its Texas-based former subsidiary, illegally downloaded Oracle software and customer-support documents after Oracle acquired PeopleSoft of Pleasanton. But the company says it should only pay about $40 million in damages to Oracle.

Oracle filed its lawsuit against SAP on March 22, 2007.

In a recent press release, SAP said, "We acknowledged three years ago that TomorrowNow made mistakes, and we took direct action to address Oracle's concerns, including shutting down the company nearly two years ago."

The company said Oracle's damages claims are "vastly overstated" and "unreasonable."

SAP said it will accept financial responsibility for any judgment awarded against TomorrowNow, "despite the fact that SAP was not involved in TomorrowNow's service operations and did not engage in any of the copying or downloading alleged in Oracle's complaint."

But Boies said Monday that he believes the evidence in the three-week trial, which included testimony by Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison, showed that SAP officials in Germany knew what TomorrowNow was doing because TomorrowNow executives reported directly to SAP's board.

"TomorrowNow mattered enormously to them," he said. "This is something that went on at the very top of that corporation."

Focusing on the damages he is seeking for Oracle, Boies said he thinks SAP "wouldn't have taken the risk" of getting caught and hurting its reputation if it would only gain $40 million in market share from Oracle. He said he believes SAP was hoping to gain several billion dollars by its actions.

Bay City News contributed to this story.

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