Oracle is continuing its war against SAP by suing it for alleged software copyright theft.
Oracle alleged that SAP “has stolen thousands of proprietary, copyrighted software products and other confidential materials that Oracle developed to service its own support customers”.
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Oracle also claimed SAP “gained repeated and unauthorised access, in many cases by use of pre-textual customer log-in credentials, to Oracle’s proprietary, password-protected customer support website”.
The alleged theft is said to have happened between September 2006 and January this year. Oracle claimed SAP employees at the SAP TomorrowNow subsidiary in the US "copied and swept thousands of Oracle products and other proprietary and confidential materials into its own servers".
It is believed fake log-ins or credentials “stolen” from high profile Oracle customers including Honeywell, Merck & Co, and Bear Sterns, among others, were used.
Oracle claimed the stolen software allowed SAP "to offer cut rate support services to customers who use Oracle software”, in an attempt to lure them to SAP's applications.
Oracle said it had investigated large increases in support web traffic and discovered that searches and downloads had been instigated from the SAP TomorrowNow site.
Oracle claimed SAP acquired the subsidiary in 2005 solely for the purpose of gaining Oracle customer records held by the firm. TomorrowNow offers cut rate support services on Oracle products.
David Mitchell, an analyst at Ovum, said, “Most legal cases in software have focused on product-related IP. This case is different, in that it focuses on the IP around a support and service offering.
“One group of people that must not be forgotten in this turmoil is the customers of both SAP and Oracle.
Many of them are now wondering whether they have inadvertently benefited from this breach.”
He said that from the details that have emerged so far, there appears to be no accusation that SAP has embedded Oracle IP into SAP products. On that basis there should be no customer concerns around them inadvertently breaching IP rights by using SAP products.
But, he added, “Oracle has no beef with SAP customers, only with SAP. Oracle could remove customer concerns by declaring that it would not pursue SAP customers, for any breech of IP that SAP may or may not have undertaken.”
Earlier this week, Oracle posted impressive third quarter results, and at the same time claimed that its business software business was growing far faster than SAP’s.
SAP has not so far responded to the Oracle lawsuit.
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