3 Famous Business-To-Business Lawsuits

By Ryan C. Fuhrmann | November 22, 2012 AAA

When large companies head to court to settle disputes, the dollar amounts can be sizable. Multi-billion dollar corporations have plenty of financial firepower to cover legal expenses to go after each other, and the disputes can cover business operations that generate billions of dollars in annual revenue. The fast-moving technology space has seen more than its fair share of litigation in recent years. The energy industry is also unpredictable, and accidents that take place lead to finger pointing and high-profile legal battles. Below are three famous lawsuits among large corporations.

Apple Vs. Samsung
In one of the more famous and bigger recent lawsuits, tech giants Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) and Samsung squared off. Apple went after Samsung, claiming infringement on a number of iPhone patents that it claimed were integrated into Samsung's various smartphone devices. Back in August, Apple won a major decision as a California court found a number of copyright infringements on the part of Samsung. It awarded Apple just over $1 billion in damages.

Samsung continues to fight the charges, which included infringements on approximately seven Apple patents. These include a number of scrolling and zooming features related to touch-screen functionality. Other basic design features, such as the look of the phone and apps in the phone software were infringed upon, according to the court. With money at stake and the ability for Samsung to successfully sell its phones in the United States and international markets, there will be plenty of further litigation before the case is either settled or final decisions are handed down.

Oracle Vs. SAP
Also in the technology space, software giants and archrivals Oracle (Nasdaq:ORCL) and SAP (NYSE:SAP) have had a very public legal battle brewing. An initial court decision was also reached in August and ordered SAP of Germany to pay Oracle $306 million. This followed litigation stemming back to 2010 that initially saw a jury award $1.3 billion to Oracle, though the amount was reduced to below $300 million. Oracle thought this number was too low and continued to fight in the courts.

The latest judgment represents a settlement between the two firms and stems from allegations that a SAP software maintenance application inappropriately downloaded software from Oracle. SAP had, in effect, admitted to the mistake, but it has taken a number of years for the settlement amounts to be finalized. The extended time has allowed the outspoken CEO of Oracle, Larry Ellison, the opportunity to publicly bash SAP for the embarrassing act of downloading the software.

BP Vs. Transocean Offshore
The BP (NYSE:BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in April 2010 is one of the most expensive oil spills in recent history, and it has cost energy giant BP tens of billions of dollars in fines and cleanup costs. Total costs have been estimated above $40 billion. The rig that failed was under BP's primary responsibility, but it did work with a number of partners. A primary partner was oil rig owner and operator Transocean Offshore. BP had alleged that Transocean should be on the hook for as much as $15 billion in cleanup costs. Officially, Transocean owned the rig while BP owned most of the Macondo oil well that blew and was the primary culprit for the spill. The case boils down to the legal language in the rig contracts but does appear to favor Transocean over BP. So far, both sides continue to fight, and an eventual settlement is likely within a few more years.

The Bottom Line
The vast sums at stake mean corporate disagreements drag out for years. For the firm likely at fault, it would rather fight on than have to pay out potential billions in settlement dollars. For the other side, it may hold out for the eventual payout but also may want to ensure its reputation is held in high esteem.

At the time of writing, Ryan Fuhrmann did not own any shares in any company mentioned in this article.

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