SAP retreats in fight with Oracle to focus on damages

Within days of Oracle chief Larry Ellison challenging former SAP chief Leo Apotheker to a showdown in court, SAP has retreated.

Within days of Oracle chief  Larry Ellison challenging former SAP chief Leo Apotheker to a showdown in court, SAP has retreated.

The suit, filed in 2007, alleged that SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow had stolen copyrighted software products and other confidential materials, as well as gaining repeated and unauthorised access to Oracle's proprietary, password-protected customer support website.

Earlier this week, Ellison issued a statement claiming that Apotheker, now HP chief executive and board chairman, knew about SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow's theft of Oracle's intellectual property while it was taking place.

But now, just days before the case is due to go to trial on 1 November, SAP has indicated it will not fight that claim, according to the Financial Times.

SAP's move is expected to cut the duration of the trial by half, down to two weeks, by eliminating a re-hash of what TomorrowNow did wrong, because the only matter left for a jury to decide is the extent of the damage, the paper said.

Oracle has responded by asking for a hearing and a three-day postponement of the opening of trial to Thursday.

Geoff Howard, Oracle's attorney, welcomed SAP's admission of liability, but said it was neither fair nor reasonable to force Oracle to cut its presentation by 45% on the eve of the trial.

The trial will now focus on whether TomorrowNow's access to Oracle's internal systems caused a few million dollars' worth of damage to Oracle's business, or more than $1bn of damage, as Oracle claims.

But, while the fight will be about damages on the surface, there are deeper underlying issues at stake, the Times said.

Oracle wants to restrict the ability of other third parties like TomorrowNow to cut into revenue by performing maintenance on Oracle's software, and Oracle is concerned about moves into business software by HP, where Apotheker takes over as chief executive on 1 November.

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