Oracle says it's broadening, not ending, its dispute with SAP

Settlement is the furthest thing from the mind of Oracle, which now contends that the wounds it suffered through SAP's alleged IP infringement cut deeper than at the time it filed its lawsuit.

Oracle today denied published suggestions that the company is on the verge of settlement talks with SAP in a lawsuit alleging intellectual property. Instead, the company says it will now file an amended complaint alleging infringement beyond its original complaint that SAP's TomorrowNow unit hacked Oracle's Web site, an Oracle spokesperson said.

The reports of imminent settlement talks between Oracle and SAP appear to have been derived from the dissemination through the Web of a federal court order referring their dispute to a mediator.

But according to Deborah Hellinger, an Oracle spokesperson, most cases of this kind are sent to alternative dispute resolution (ADR), anyway, and the order won't stand in the way of Oracle's intentions to file an amended complaint with additional claims.

"No date for mediation has been set, and we are not currently in settlement discussions. In fact, such discussions are premature," Hellinger said, in a written statement this week. "As set forth in Oracle's current claims, it appears that SAP infringed Oracle's intellectual property on a daily basis over a course of many years, in ways that Oracle is only beginning to discover."

Hellinger also said that Oracle has "uncovered a broader program of copyright infringement that is entirely different from the scheme alleged in the current complaint."

As a result of this evidence, she said, Oracle "will file an amended complaint that will include these new claims."

In its original claim against SAP, Oracle alleged that TomorrowNow -- a support services entity acquired by SAP in 2005 -- performed "corporate theft on a grand scale" in downloading software from Oracle on half of TN's customers.

In court papers filed in July, SAP denied any "corporate theft" in connection with the downloads, asserting that it was TN, rather than SAP America or European-based SAP AG, that acted on its own in conducting the downloads. Moreover, SAP contended that the downloads took place under policies meant to ensure that customers weren't downloading materials they weren't entitled to access.

But SAP also told the court that TN "admits that certain downloads took place that, in violation of TN policies, may have erroneously exceeded the customers' right of access."

SAP's TN unit provides supports services for software from PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel -- three entities acquired by Oracle over the past few years -- as well as for Baan.

In November, SAP stated that several of TN's top executives had resigned, including CEO Andrew Nelson and members of his management team, and that a possible sale of TN was being considered.

Rimini Street -- a company founded by ex-TN executive Seth Ravin -- has often been cited as a possible buyer for TN.

In an interview with BetaNews in November, Dave Rowe, Simini Street's president of marketing and alliances, said that while his company was still interested in TN, "we have to be careful of the value of what we're obtaining."

Rowe suggested that, in Rimini's assessement, TN's value as an acquired property might become undermined if enough customers defected to other resources for supporting their software.

SAP's Tomorrow Now is still on the shopping block.

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