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Judge rejects Oracle $1.3-billion verdict against SAP

An Oracle sign is shown at the National Retail Federation convention on Tuesday, January 15, 2008 in New York.

MARK LENNIHAN/AP/MARK LENNIHAN/AP

A federal judge rejected a jury award of $1.3-billion (U.S.) to Oracle Corp. in a copyright infringement lawsuit against SAP AG , paving the way for a possible new trial in a years-long legal dispute.

In a ruling released Thursday, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton found that Oracle had proven actual damages of only $272-million. She called for a new trial unless Oracle agreed to accept that amount.

Oracle shares were down 0.8 per cent at $27.85 in afternoon trading.

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A jury awarded Oracle $1.3-billion last year over accusations that SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow wrongfully downloaded millions of Oracle files.

"The award of hypothetical license damages totaling $1.3-billion was contrary to the weight of the evidence and was grossly excessive," Judge Hamilton said in her ruling. "The court grants the motion for a new trial as to actual damages" should Oracle reject the $272-million figure.

An Oracle representative declined to comment.

SAP spokesman Jim Dever said the company is "very gratified" by the decision as it believed the verdict was wrong.

"We hope the court's action will help drive this matter to a final resolution," Mr. Dever said.

The legal battle between two of the software industry's largest players captivated Silicon Valley. In 2010, a three-week trial included testimony from such top executives as billionaire Oracle chief executive officer Larry Ellison and Oracle president Safra Catz.

SAP's lawyers accused Mr. Ellison of plucking damages numbers "out of the air."

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SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott also took the stand and apologized to Oracle for the events surrounding TomorrowNow.

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