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Oracle rivals, Defense Dept. seek restrictions

SAP, the Defense Department and others join Microsoft in asking a federal judge to prevent Oracle's in-house attorneys from reviewing confidential documents and information.

Software maker SAP and the Defense Department were among a half-dozen parties that asked a federal judge on Tuesday to prevent Oracle's in-house attorneys from reviewing confidential documents and information.

The Justice Department gathered the documents and information from customers, competitors and other organizations as part of its lawsuit to block Oracle's hostile bid to acquire PeopleSoft.

These companies and organizations followed in Microsoft's footsteps and submitted their requests to the U.S. District Court of Northern California before Tuesday's deadline. They are seeking to add more restrictions to an already-existing protective order.

In their filings, the parties asserted competitive concerns.

"The DOD is trying to automate the human resource functions for all military personnel within the DOD," the Department of Defense stated in its court filing. "With the competitively sensitive information contained in (our) documents, Oracle would have an unfair advantage during the competitive procurement process or contract negotiations."

The Department of Defense is a key customer for Oracle, which puts the company in the delicate position of wanting to adhere to a customer's wishes, yet also wanting to win its court case.

Fidelity Employer Services, another software user, asserted its concerns about Oracle's in-house attorneys receiving "highly confidential" information about its market, customers and competitors.

Oracle rivals SAP, Lawson Software and QAD offered similar concerns. Lawson and QAD are software makers that target medium-sized businesses.

SAP, which submitted 70,000 pages of documents to regulators, stated in its filing: "SAP's most sensitive documents may soon be disclosed to one of its primary competitors. The requested documents, if produced to Oracle's in-house counsel, would harm SAP's proprietary interests and competitive position."

Meanwhile, Lawson Software proposed several steps that could be taken if the courts reject its request for further protection. Lawson said Oracle's in-house attorneys should be subject to restrictions if allowed to view its "highly confidential information."

The software vendor suggested allowing the attorneys to view the documents at locations physically separate from Oracle's offices and prohibiting the attorneys from taking the documents into any Oracle site.

Other suggestions included allowing review of the material, as long as the hardware to gain access is not networked to any Oracle server or other network, is not brought into any Oracle building and is not equipped with wireless capabilities. Lawson's proposal also calls for remote access through a secure server and connection.

The court is scheduled to take up these and other matters relating to the case on Friday.