Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Show Me...Damages

Clearly, damages are a form of monetary compensation. The question is how to assess damages. It is more than difficult to assess. Two recent damages cases prove this point: Oracle v. SAP and RIAA v. Thomas. In both instances, liability was established and now damages have become the major issue.

In Oracle v. SAP, the jury awarded $1.3 billion when SAP copied Oracle’s software and customer manuals. Oracle claimed that a license for such software to SAP would have been around $2 billion dollars. SAP countered that because it was only able to get sway a few of Oracle’s customer to buy from SAP that the damages in the $30-40 million dollar range was more appropriate. Following the verdict, a representative from SAP indicated that “[SAP] will pursue all available options, including post-trial motions and appeal if necessary.”

In November, the third trial in RIAA v. Jammie Thomas-Rassett, a case involving illegal music downloads of 24 songs was held. In 2007, the jury initially awarded the RIAA $222,000. However, due to a jury instruction error, the judge declared a mistrial and the verdict was thrown out. Rather than settling outside of court, Thomas-Rassett opted for a second trial, and in 2009 the second jury awarded the RIAA just under $2 million. The judge in the case subsequently lowered the award to over $50,000.

Both parties appealed the decision and a third jury awarded the RIAA $1.5 million or $62,500 per song. A copy of the verdict is available here via Copyrights and Campaigns. Lawyers for Thomas argued that because the downloads themselves were worth $1 a piece that the damages should be $24. The RIAA had sought a maximum amount of $3.6 million.

No comments:

Post a Comment