A trial judge in 2011 called the award excessive and reduced it by about $1 billion, prompting Oracle to take its case to the 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel of the appeals court will hear arguments in San Francisco on Tuesday.
The 7-year-old legal battle revolves around SAP's $10 million acquisition of a small software services firm TomorrowNow that had promised to help corporate customers and government agencies maintain the applications that they had purchased from Oracle.
After SAP took over TomorrowNow in 2005, Oracle uncovered evidence that TomorrowNow was breaking into Oracle's computers to steal instruction manuals and other technical information about copyrighted software.
SAP acknowledged much of the misconduct before the first trial began in 2010, but argued it should not be penalized severely because it didn't gain that much from the stolen data. SAP estimated it picked up about $40 million in revenue from the skullduggery, prompting it to set aside $160 million for the damages that it thought it might have to pay.
SAP then agreed to pay Oracle $306 million in damages and $120 million in legal expenses but allowed Oracle to pursue reinstatement of the $1.3 billion jury verdict.
Oracle spokeswoman Jessica Moore declined comment. SAP spokesman James Dever didn't respond to an email inquiry.
In court papers, Oracle argues that it is entitled to the jury's verdict because that's what SAP would have paid in licensing fees.
SAP lawyers counter that the trial court judge got it right in reducing the verdict, ruling that Oracle would never have licensed its software to a direct competitor.