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Oracle-SAP Lawsuit Heats Up

April 18, 2008
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The legal tussle between business software titans Oracle and SAP has intensified, with Oracle accusing its archrival of stealing copies of Oracle’s actual software applications.

In a court document filed April 17, Oracle says it has discovered a pattern of unlawful conduct on SAP’s part that is even more serious than the mass downloading of support materials initially at the heart of the dispute.

“Defendants have approximately 3,000 copies of Oracle software applications on their systems, each one of which may additionally have included within it illegally downloaded Software and Support Materials,” Oracle said in the court filing, known as a joint case management conference statement.

SAP responded in the court filing that Oracle is using hyperbole in the case, which centers on the actions of SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow.

“TomorrowNow’s customers are entitled to use their Oracle-licensed software and materials properly obtained from Oracle’s Web site to maintain that software. TomorrowNow performs that maintenance service for its customers, allowing them to focus their personnel on their core business,” SAP said. “It should be no surprise to anyone, including Oracle, that TomorrowNow has accessed Oracle software in providing support to users of that software.”

SAP also fired its own salvo at Oracle in the filing, saying Oracle has failed to produce complete customer licenses more than a year after claiming those licenses were violated.

The dispute between the biggest makers of human resource software dates to March 2007. Redwood Shores, California-based Oracle sued Germany-based SAP in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, alleging SAP had “stolen thousands of proprietary, copyrighted software products and other confidential materials that Oracle developed to service its own support customers.”

SAP said TomorrowNow was authorized to download materials from Oracle’s Web site on behalf of TomorrowNow customers, but acknowledged “some inappropriate downloads.”

Late last year, SAP said that several senior managers of TomorrowNow, including the unit’s CEO, had resigned. SAP also said it is considering several options for the future of the TomorrowNow business, including a possible sale.

The legal bickering between the two companies could go on for some time. According to the court filing Thursday, the two sides agree that the trial date for the case should be postponed from February 2009 to February 2010.

—Ed Frauenheim

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