SAP has again refuted rival Oracle's strongly worded legal complaints accusing it of stealing trade secrets in a bid to attract new customers, but it has admitted to "some inappropriate downloads" by its TomorrowNow software support subsidiary.
The German software company, instisted it had never had access to the downloads.
In an about face from his previous position, SAP CEO Henning Kagermann also said Tuesday that his company is open to a possible settlement with Oracle, which has charged SAP with "corporate theft on a grand scale."
TomorrowNow was authorised to download materials from Oracle's Web site on behalf of customers, SAP said, but acknowledged that there were some inappropriate downloads of software patches and support documents. SAP announced new oversights at TomorrowNow, including the appointment of a new executive chairman, to avoid such problems in the future.
"Even a single inappropriate download is unacceptable from my perspective," Kagermann said in a statement. "We regret very much that this occurred."
The U.S. Department of Justice has asked for documents related to the case from SAP and TomorrowNow, SAP said, and the companies will cooperate with the request.
Oracle filed a surprise lawsuit against SAP on 22 March. It alleged that TomorrowNow staff hacked into a support Web site for users of Oracle's PeopleSoft and JD Edwards applications and downloaded vast amounts of content, which SAP then used to offer Oracle customers cut-rate support services.
SAP had until midnight Pacific Time on Monday night to file its response in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, which is hearing the case, and filed the documents shortly before the deadline.
SAP will consider all options in the Oracle case including a possible settlement, Kagermann said in a conference call Tuesday. That marks an abrupt turnaround from April, when Kagermann said during the company's quarterly earnings call: "We have no intention to settle; why should we?"
The legal proceedings will likely have no impact on SAP's business in the US, Kagermann said Tuesday, vowing to continue its Safe Passage campaign to win customers from Oracle.