We all tend to have our favorite sports teams and we often come to enjoy the classic rivalry among certain teams.  Regardless of the season’s record, the game between two noted rivals is often an event to itself. 

So it is among certain businesses as well as large enterprise software firms where bitter rivalries seem to transcend other needs.  One such longstanding rivalry has been SAP and Oracle where a contentious legal battle continues to unfold to what Supply Chain Matters views as a public embarrassment for both of these firms.

A prior SAP subsidiary, TomorrowNow, which turned out to be not one of SAP’s most astute acquisitions, had been performing software maintenance support for Oracle clients. Oracle sued SAP in 2007 after discovering thousands of suspicious downloads of its software. SAP later admitted that its subsidiary had violated Oracle’s copyright protections leaving a jury to resolve the level of damages to be paid. Oracle sought damages in excess of $1 billion, and indeed a jury found in favor of Oracle in a 2010 trial proceeding. However, a U.S. District Judge determined that Oracle’s claim was excessive and revised the damage award to $272 million. Both firms then agreed that SAP would pay Oracle $306 million in damages plus substantial legal costs to settle the matter. Oracle then elected to pursue the case before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to recover the original $1 billion claim.

Last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court ruled on this matter. Media reports indicate that for the most part, the appeals court rejected Oracle’s $1.3 billion damage claim, in essence ruling that Oracle must either accept a lower amount or face a new trial. The three judge panel instructed the lower court to offer Oracle a choice of $356.7 million in damages or seek a second trial. Thus far, Oracle has declined to publically comment as to which action it will take.

After four years of legal wrangling, it is time for both firms to move on.  Both have suffered public embarrassments in the eyes of each’s individual customers. From our lens, both firms have other pressing needs in terms of investments and services for supply chain, manufacturing, procurement and B2B network customers.

Bob Ferrari