Oracle and SAP kick it around in court

Oracle and SAP faced off in a U.S. District Court hearing Tuesday over Oracle's allegations that its archrival pilfered some of its software and support materials.

Dawn Kawamoto Former Staff writer, CNET News
Dawn Kawamoto covered enterprise security and financial news relating to technology for CNET News.
Dawn Kawamoto
2 min read

OK, sports fans, here's the preliminary score in the early stages of the Oracle-SAP court battle, which got underway with a case management hearing Tuesday.

Oracle - 1, SAP AG - 2...for now.

Brief recap. Last March, Oracle filed a lawsuit against SAP AG and its wholly owned subsidiary, TomorrowNow. Oracle alleged that SAP and TomorrowNow engaged in such nefarious acts as downloading more of Oracle's proprietary software and support materials than TomorrowNow was entitled to receive, via Oracle's former customers who had signed aboard with TomorrowNow, a support and maintenance company. SAP, at the time, acknowledged that TomorrowNow had engaged in improper downloading of some proprietary software and support materials, but noted that it was limited and did not involve the mother ship back home in Germany, SAP AG.

In U.S. District Court in San Francisco Tuesday, Oracle received a big win when Judge Martin Jenkins didn't restrict its document search and deposition process to only the folks at TomorrowNow. Oracle, much to its rival's consternation, can also do a deep dive into SAP's documents and depose folks in Germany.

SAP, however, scored some points, as well. For starters, Judge Jenkins said both parties can only depose 20 folks between now and the next hearing in February. SAP was seeking 20, while Oracle wanted 80. Each party is limited to 150 document requests before the February hearing--and so far, the parties have roughly hit the 100 mark.

SAP, which wants to put this matter to rest ASAP, got some leeway from the judge, who nixed Oracle's request to spend a minimum of 18 months pulling documents out of SAP and TomorrowNow. Oracle's 18-month estimate didn't include other court activities, such as a trial.

The judge, however, set a trial date for 17 months from now, on February 9, 2009.

SAP may also ultimately win its request to pull Oracle into mediation, once the parties have undergone their document requests and depositions prior to their February 12 status conference with the judge next year. Of course, there's no guarantee that even if the parties engage in mediation that an agreement will be reached and a trial avoided.

And although Judge Jenkins appeared fairly firm on his February 9, 2009, trial date. Things can change. The hearing Tuesday, for example, was initially scheduled for September 4.