The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a $391 million judgment against computer software maker SAP AG (SAP:US) in a patent-infringement dispute over database management tools.
The justices today, without comment, turned away an appeal filed by the largest maker of business-management software. The company had argued that an appeals court changed the rules on how to determine infringement and should have put the case on hold until a separate review of the validity of the patent was resolved.
Trilogy Inc.’s Versata Software won the 2011 trial, in which it claimed SAP infringed a patent for software that can customize pricing based on factors such as the particular customer, product and size of the order. Closely held Versata said SAP began offering customized pricing and undercut Versata’s business for its own software, called Pricer.
A month after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the infringement finding, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said the patent was invalid and shouldn’t have been issued. The Federal Circuit, which handles all appeals, refused to freeze the infringement judgment until it reviewed the agency decision.
“SAP now faces the prospect of having to pay a $391 million judgment despite having successfully invalidated the patent claims at issue,” Walldorf, Germany-based SAP said in papers filed with the high court. At the same time, it said, “SAP’s competitors who might have ‘infringed’ the same patent will avoid any similar liability.”
The jury verdict was $345 million and grew to $391 million after adjustments, including interest.
SAP separately challenged the verdict, saying it shouldn’t be liable for directly infringing the patent when the customers are the ones who perform the operations claimed by the patent. That argument had the backing of the American Bankers Association, smartphone makers BlackBerry Ltd. and HTC Corp., and Intuit Inc., maker of the TurboTax software program.
Versata, whose parent company is based in Austin, Texas, urged the Supreme Court not to take the case, arguing that “SAP had a full and fair opportunity to litigate in court.”
The case is SAP America Inc. v. Versata Software Inc., 13-716.
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