SAP pushes for early settlement with Oracle

SAP has asked a US court to order settlement talks in its legal battle with Oracle, arguing that Oracle exaggerated its claims against the German software maker.

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SAP has asked a US court to order settlement talks in its legal battle with Oracle, arguing that Oracle exaggerated its claims against the German software maker.

Oracle is opposing such talks and accused SAP of trying to "make this case go away."

In court papers filed on 28 August, SAP claimed there were anomalies in Oracle's lawsuit, which was filed in March against SAP and its TomorrowNow subsidiary. The suit charged the companies with posing as Oracle customers and illegally downloading customer support materials from an Oracle Web site.

Oracle's version of what happened is "dramatic but inaccurate," SAP argued in a joint filing submitted ahead of a case management conference scheduled for 4 September. It said Oracle ignored several factors in its complaint, including that TomorrowNow was entitled to access the Oracle Web site because it was doing work for Oracle customers, and that none of the material was downloaded by SAP itself.

"This case, in short, is about whether TomorrowNow exceeded its customers' rights in downloading certain materials. That is not a matter of 'corporate theft on a grand scale,' as Oracle says in its complaint, but a matter of contract interpretation," SAP wrote.

It asked the court to order the two sides into an "alternative dispute resolution" process, which would seek to settle the case outside the courtroom. It wants the process to begin in a few months, mediated by a magistrate judge, and for discovery -- the process of gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses -- to continue in the meantime.

"As with most cases, prompt resolution of this case is in the best interests of all concerned," SAP said.

Oracle was against the idea, however. It said SAP has given no evidence that it never received the documents downloaded by TomorrowNow. What's more, the downloads that Oracle has uncovered so far may be only the "tip of the iceberg." Settlement talks would be premature until Oracle has determined the extent of SAP's illegal conduct, Oracle said.

SAP has "one obvious goal: to make this case go away without meaningful discovery into what it really did," the company said.

The positions are laid out in documents filed ahead of a case management conference scheduled for Sept. 4. Oracle portrays the case as highly complex and requiring lengthy discovery, including depositions from dozens of customers. It is seeking a trial date in September 2009. SAP says the scope of the case should be narrower and that it is unnecessary to interview so many customers. It wants a trial date of February 2009 or earlier.

SAP posted a copy of the joint filing on its Web site.

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