Antitrust concerns? Not here,


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said in a response to a government lawsuit aimed at blocking its hostile acquisition of rival software maker




In a response filed in federal court in San Francisco on Thursday, but made public Friday, Oracle denied that the $9.4 billion deal would, as the government claims, violate the Clayton Antitrust Act.

"To the contrary, the proposed acquisition is procompetitive, in that it will permit Oracle to compete with the clear market leader,


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, and the numerous other existing competitors of the relevant software products, and will position Oracle to compete effectively with


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which is aggressively expanding its position in enterprise applications software," Oracle wrote.

Oracle spokeswoman Jennifer Glass said that the lawyers on both sides have met to discuss a schedule for the trial, but details are not yet final.

The lengthy battle to capture PeopleSoft has not resulted in a victory for Oracle, but it's been a full-employment act for lawyers and a boon to newspaper publishers.

Since June, the two companies have spent a minimum of $71 million on the battle, and when the current quarter concludes, the bill will likely reach about $95 million, according to regulatory filings and estimates by people close to the fight.

And they're not done yet. Oracle, says Banc of America analyst Robert Stimson, will be spending an estimated $20 million a quarter as it struggles to overturn the Department of Justice's decision to block the proposed merger.

Where has the money gone? Lawyers, of course, newspapers ads -- both companies have run full-page ads in major newspapers around the country -- and consultants.

In recent trading shares of Oracle were off 19 cents, or 1.5%, to $12.81; PeopleSoft was also off, down 23 cents, or 1.1%, to $20.40, well below Oracle's most recent offer of $26 a share.