While enterprise software maker SAP decides whether to appeal a $1.3 billion jury verdict for stealing a rival’s intellectual property, market analysts say the legal loss likely won’t drive customers away — including those in higher education — since changing software providers is an arduous and expensive task.
Either route is going to cost the German company dearly, and will have implications for how other technology companies approach copyrights.
A jury in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday found that SAP’s behavior in plundering software and documents from archenemy Oracle Corp.’s secured websites was so egregious that it awarded Oracle nearly all of the damages it was seeking.
If SAP appeals, it will have to endure several more years of disastrous publicity, a jackpot for Oracle.
“I’m not sure what the grounds for an appeal are — I’m not sure what the argument would be,” said Patrick Walravens, an analyst with JMP Securities. “It’s not like this was a trial that was done in a quick and dirty manner. It was three years and hundreds of millions in legal fees — things were pretty well vetted.”
The judge in the case still has to formally affirm the jury’s verdict, and could reduce the award. An order could come sometime in the next week.
Many analysts suspect that SAP will stand down and try and figure out a way to pay one of the biggest software piracy penalties on record. Doing so would put the $10 million acquisition of the tiny, now-shuttered company called TomorrowNow that landed SAP in this mess that much farther in the rearview mirror.
SAP would only say that its legal team is “currently assessing all options available to us after this disappointing verdict,” including post-trial motions and appeals. “Unfortunately, this is a process that we expect to last a while. We continue to hope that an appropriate resolution can be reached without years of additional litigation.”