By Dan Levine
OAKLAND, California (Reuters) - A high-profile trial to decide on potentially billions of dollars of damages for software theft by SAP AG will be an important test case for the industry, Oracle's lawyers said on Monday.
Oracle Corp attorney David Boies said in his closing argument that the case marked a larger issue than just two technology heavyweights slugging it out in court.
"The reason it is so important is because protection of intellectual property is at the heart of the software industry," Boies said.
But SAP believed it could use its TomorrowNow subsidiary, which wrongfully downloaded millions of Oracle files, as a "liability shield" that could take the fall for copyright infringement, the lawyer added.
An attorney for SAP, Europe's top software maker, retorted that Oracle was trying to get jurors to award damages far in excess of TomorrowNow's true value.
"They are trying to trick you into doing that," lawyer Robert Mittelstaedt said.
He added that SAP never used the software downloaded, and the subsidiary only netted a handful of customers, representing little profit.
The jury will begin deliberating after SAP's closing argument wraps up. A decision on the amount of compensation SAP will pay Oracle for stealing software files may come as soon as Monday or Tuesday.
SAP, which has accepted responsibility for its former subsidiary's theft, has calculated it owes Oracle at most $40 million, while the U.S. business software company argues it is owed at least $1.6 billion.
Testimony in what has been described as Silicon Valley's most closely watched trial in years wrapped up on Friday without former SAP chief and current Hewlett-Packard Co CEO Leo Apotheker putting in a hoped-for appearance.
Analysts expect him to address them on a conference call later on Monday after HP posts quarterly earnings in the afternoon.
After weeks of jousting about the role played by Apotheker -- named CEO at Hewlett-Packard in October -- the German executive did not testify.
During the trial, Oracle linked Apotheker to the operations of TomorrowNow. But they did not appear to produce evidence to prove he knew about the theft.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has publicly charged Apotheker with overseeing an "industrial espionage scheme" centered on stealing its software. But both SAP and HP have characterized the Apotheker issue as a sideshow and say Oracle has offered no proof to back up its allegations about him.
The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Oracle USA Inc, et al. v. SAP AG, et al, 07-1658.
(Writing by Edwin Chan; editing by Andre Grenon and Tim Dobbyn)