In March 2007 Oracle took its bitter rivalry with business applications vendor SAP to another level, filing legal action against SAP alleging violations of US fraud legislation, unfair competition and civil conspiracy. "This case is about corporate theft on a grand scale," the lawsuit contended. Oracle alleged it discovered that SAP is "engaged in systematic, illegal access" to Oracle's computerised customer support systems.
Oracle filed the lawsuit against SAP, its SAP America division and its TomorrowNow subsidiary, which provided third-party maintenance and support in large part for Oracle applications drawn from its PeopleSoft, Siebel and JD Edwards product families. Part of Oracle's suit related to the role it said TomorrowNow played as part of SAP's Safe Passage programme designed to move Oracle users over to SAP applications, while Oracle also filed the suit against 50 unnamed individuals that it claimed were employees of SAP and whose identities the vendor hoped to determine during the course of the lawsuit.
In November 2010 a jury awarded Oracle $1.3 billion in damages, which Oracle said was "the largest amount ever awarded for software piracy."
But last month a judge overturned the decision, granting SAP's motion to throw out the award, finding it "grossly excessive." District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, in Oakland, Californa, ruled that SAP would deserve a new trial on damages, were Oracle to reject her decision to lower the award to $272 million.
In the end, SAP agreed to pay just over $20 million (£12.7 million) to settle the criminal case against TomorrowNow.