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March 23, 2007

Oracle Sues SAP

Oracle and SAP are two fierce rivals in enterprise software that rely on heavy use of databases for corporate information.  SAP is a German company with the largest share of the market and Oracle has a respectable but definitely second place share of the same market.  Oracle sued SAP on Wednesday claiming wholesale downloading and copying of support programs and documents for various Oracle products.  Essentially, using customer ids, a subsidiary of SAP, SAP TN located in Bryant, Texas, allegedly logged into Oracle servers and downloaded more or less all of the various Oracle support libraries.  SAP TN is engaged in supporting PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards software.  Both of these companies were independent until purchased by Oracle.  The PeopleSoft purchase was particularly acrimonious for customers and shareholders alike.  Oracle accused SAP as it traced IP addresses in its server logs back to the SAP TN office.

One of the points raised by Oracle in its complaint is that customers are only entitled to download software that works with their purchased products.  SAP TN used login IDs and passwords associated with customers whose support contracts were about to or had expired.  SAP TN was in competition to acquire the product support for these customer's Oracle products.  What Oracle has not done is sue these customers whose IDs were allegedly used.  These include (from the complaint) Abbott Laboratories, Abitibi-Consolidated, Inc., Bear, Stearns & Co., Berri Limited, Border Foods, Caterpillar Elphinstone,Distribution & Auto Service, Fuelserv Limited, Grupo Costamex, Helzberg Diamonds, HerbertWaldman, Honeywell International, Interbrew UK, Laird Plastics, Merck & Co., Metro Machine Corp., Mortice Kern Systems, Inc., National Manufacturing, NGC Management Limited, OCE Technologies, B.V., Ronis, S.A., Smithfield Foods, SPX Corporation, Stora Enso, Texas Association of School Boards, VSM Group AB, and Yazaki North America.  There is probably no suit against these people as Oracle would not want to jeopardize retaining them as customers. 

It's hard to believe that SAP would do something as dumb as this.  I'll speculate that it was probably a rogue operation that wasn't sanctioned by the parent and Oracle is using this incident as a way of playing gotcha as much as protecting their intellectual property.  Let's see what happens when this one goes to trial, if it gets there at all.

March 23, 2007 | Permalink


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