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A roundup of the latest high-tech news “Hot Off the Wire” from The Associated Press and Local Tech Wire:

• SAP buying Sybase for $5.8B as it battles Oracle

SAN FRANCISCO — German business software maker SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) has agreed to buy Sybase Inc. in a $5.8 billion deal that ratchets up SAP’s rivalry with database leader Oracle Corp.

The acquisition is the first big move by SAP’s new co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe, who took over in February after the previous CEO, Leo Apotheker, suddenly resigned. The resignation came amid concerns over SAP’s faltering finances and its ability to counter the mounting threat from Oracle.

SAP and Oracle are battling to run more of the programs that corporations use to manage their data. Their businesses overlap even more with SAP’s purchase of Sybase.

As the world’s leading maker of business-software applications, SAP has had the luxury of being largely quiet when it comes to acquisitions. It hasn’t had to buy its way in to many new markets.

Its last major acquisition was in 2008, when it bought Paris-based Business Objects for $6.8 billion. That company’s "business intelligence" software helps companies analyze their data and spot patterns to help them make decisions.

Oracle, meanwhile, has been on a $40 billion buying binge since 2004 in what in most cases has been an attempt to muscle into SAP’s markets.

Oracle’s primary business is making database software, an area where it’s the world’s leader with more than 40 percent of the market. Databases help companies store their information and retrieve it later through computer programs. Sybase is a small player in that market, with about 2 or 3 percent market share. Its absorption by SAP puts SAP into more direct competition with Oracle in that area.

Oracle declined to comment.

• Sony’s annual loss shrinks to $439 million

TOKYO — Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) , maker of the PlayStation 3, stayed in the red last business year but cost cuts and better sales of consumer electronics allowed it to shrink losses and predict a return to profit.

The Tokyo-based company Thursday reported a 40.8 billion yen ($439 million) loss for the year ended March 31, an improvement from the previous year’s 98.9 billion yen loss, which was Sony’s first annual red ink in 14 years.

The electronics and entertainment giant credited LCD televisions and digital cameras for helping drive its recovery. It also cited its life insurance unit, where revenue surged 58 percent.

Sony expects to climb back into the black in the year through March 2011. It forecasts a net profit of 50 billion yen on revenue of 7.6 trillion yen.

Since taking over in 2005, Chief Executive Howard Stringer has been trying to unite the company’s sprawling businesses, improve efficiency and rein in costs. His efforts appear to be paying off, with company leaner and more united as it prepares to launch a big 3-D push this year.

Sony booked 7 percent lower revenue of 7.21 trillion yen ($77.6 billion) last business year. But it bounced back to an operating profit of 31.8 billion yen ($342 million) after a 227.8 billion yen operating loss the previous year.

For the January-March quarter, Sony posted a net loss of 56.6 billion yen ($608 million) on revenue of 1.72 trillion yen ($18.4 billion).

  • LimeWire loses copyright case in fight with labels

LOS ANGELES — File-sharing software company has lost a long-running court battle to the major recording companies.

A judge with the U.S. District Court in New York ruled this week that the company and its chairman, Mark Gorton, were liable for inducing copyright infringement.

The decision in the case, which began in 2006, doesn’t mean the site will shut down right away. The record labels and LimeWire are to meet with Judge Kimba Wood on June 1 to determine the next steps, such as a possible deal to work together going forward and a potential award for damages.

Recording Industry Association of America Chairman Mitch Bainwol said in a statement Wednesday that the ruling was "an extraordinary victory" against one of the largest remaining file-sharing services in the United States.

The RIAA said more than 200 million copies of LimeWire’s file-sharing software have been downloaded so far, including 340,000 in the last week alone.

The ruling could pave the way for a deal, similar to the way Napster was sued out of existence in 2000 but was reborn and is now under the ownership of Best Buy Inc. with licensing deals with all the major recording companies.

"This isn’t about getting something shut down, it’s about getting something licensed and legal," said Steve Marks, general counsel for the RIAA.

LimeWire CEO George Searle said in a statement that while it "strongly opposes" the court’s decision, the company held out hope for a deal. The company sells an "Extended Pro" version of its free software for $34.95 a year, leaving open the possibility that a new business model could emerge in cooperation with the music industry.