SAP charges that Siebel is competing unfairly by copying its ad designs. The Siebel ads in question name one or more companies with a "runs Siebel" strapline, according to SAP. SAP ads had a "runs SAP" strapline.
"Siebel has been running a series of ads in its attempt to get a foothold in the German market. The ads were absolutely identical to the SAP ads. They basically took an ad campaign that we were running since September 2000 and copied it," said SAP spokesman William Wohl.
"The expression is that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but in this case this is not the kind of flattery we want because it creates confusion," he said, adding that SAP raised its concerns with Siebel, but got no response.
Siebel runs the same ads in the UK and SAP might go to court to get a ban there as well, said Wohl.
"We are examining ads that Siebel is running in the UK and are evaluating our legal options in that market. We will be aggressive on the point of fair competition anywhere on the globe we do business," he said.
Siebel said it would comply with the court ruling, but attacked the German legal system. "We find it curious that a German court would take this action without granting a hearing or a discussion of the facts," Siebel said in a statement.
SAP is pleased that Siebel is going stop running the ads, but said Siebel "still doesn't understand the issue".
"The accuracy of the ads was never in question. There are customers that run both Siebel and SAP. German law has a very high standard on fair competition and the court found Siebel's [ads] were misleading and confusing," said SAP's Wohl.
Corporate buyers could be turned off by the bitter battle of the rivals, said Bill Clough, research manager with IDC.