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A parade of economists, software customers and tech executives, including Larry Ellison and Craig Conway, will generate yet more fireworks in


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fight against the Justice Department over Oracle's attempt to acquire rival




Released late Tuesday evening, Oracle's witness list calls for Ellison, its CEO, to testify for an hour at the antitrust trial. Meanwhile, Oracle has proposed calling Conway, CEO of PeopleSoft, to the stand for a whopping six hours to talk about his opposition to the acquisition, and a prior proposal to merge Oracle and PeopleSoft's applications businesses, among other things. The trial is scheduled to begin June 7.

In addition to Ellison, Oracle has loaded up its witness list with five other company executives as well as two software customers and three university experts. Oracle also is calling for testimony from representatives of other software makers such as

Lawson Software




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Siebel Systems


, as well as of outsourcing companies




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. Presumably, these witnesses will bolster Oracle's case that the market in question is larger than the three main players -- Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP -- included in the government's definition.

The Justice Department, which has argued the merger violates antitrust law by reducing competition in the human resource and financial management software market, stacked its witness list with software customers in a wide variety of industries. A total of 14 executives from companies ranging from

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Neiman Marcus





, as well as two officials in the public sector, will testify about their needs and competition among Oracle, PeopleSoft and German behemoth SAP.

The remainder of the DOJ's witness panel consists of university professors, software industry consultants, PeopleSoft executives and one executive from Microsoft.

Last week, Oracle's seemingly quixotic quest for PeopleSoft took yet

another strange turn when the second-largest independent software maker lowered its buyout offer to reflect a drop in the target company's stock price. The latest offer now stands at $21 a share, or $7.7 billion, down from $26 a share, or $9.4 billion, previously.

On Tuesday, shares of PeopleSoft edged up 13 cents, or 0.8%, to $16.66; shares were trading up a nickel to $16.71 in the after-hours session. Oracle shares gained a penny Tuesday to close at $11.37 and were recently unchanged after hours.