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Oracle, SAP Spar Over Lawsuit Process

SAP looks for an early resolution; Oracle wants a lot more time.



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issued a partial mea culpa in July to a lawsuit filed by archrival


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, the Calif.-based business software maker smelled blood.

Oracle is using SAP's admission to bolster its allegations against its German rival, as seen in a joint statement from both companies Tuesday.

The filing is in preparation for next week's case management conference.

Oracle is alleging that SAP illegally downloaded more than 10,000 copyrighted materials from Oracle servers to use with its customers and to recruit new ones.

Countering, SAP asserts that its U.S. subsidiary TomorrowNow

had a right to access the servers on behalf of those customers for which it maintained Oracle software, and that the material downloaded was never shared with parent SAP.

The statement reads like a dress rehearsal of arguments for trial. But several issues must first be hammered out, such as the extent and timing of the discovery phase and the trial date.

The two giant makers of enterprise software applications express broadly different goals in the declaration. Oracle seems intent on keeping the case before the public as long as possible. By keeping the case alive, Oracle extends SAP's pain of a public black eye.

Not surprisingly, SAP wants to get on with running a business. The German company is pushing for mediation to start quickly before a judge, as a forum for Oracle to demonstrate the damages it alleges. If the case comes to trial, though, both parties want it to be heard by a jury.

Oracle hopes the discovery process, when documentary evidence is exchanged, will uncover the sharing of its materials with other SAP customers.

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Oracle believes that being forced into dispute resolution before the discovery phase would keep it from uncovering what it believes is a broader exchange of Oracle materials within SAP, according to the filing.

But SAP is trying to avoid a fishing expedition and is pressing for mediation that could lead to a settlement, a tactic encouraged by the court.

If Oracle hoped to tarnish SAP's luster and scare off its customer base, it isn't succeeding so far. Business services company


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and SAP announced a global services partnership Tuesday. That caps off a major global agreement


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signed in the second quarter.

And SAP's stock, which was trading at around $45 in March prior to the initial lawsuit, has since appreciated around 17%, trading midday Wednesday at $52.78.

Meanwhile, Oracle's stock has risen about 13% since the filing, to trade at $19.76.

Oracle claims that SAP does not appreciate the gravity of the allegations against it.

For its part, SAP believes Oracle's "unwillingness to say anything ... about its alleged damages, not even identifying any methodologies for determining


it has been damaged, is revealing," the filing states.

Oracle doesn't see a trial date possible before September 2009, while SAP wants to end the discovery phase in May 2008, suggesting that the trial could begin in February of 2009, if not sooner.