SAP Won’t Contest Oracle Infringement Claims at Trial

SAP AG won’t contest Oracle Corp.’s claims that it contributed to copyright infringement by a now-defunct unit being sued for improperly downloading Oracle software, the companies said in court filings.

SAP lawyers told Oracle in an e-mail yesterday about its decision and plans to ask the judge presiding over the case to shorten the trial, scheduled to begin Nov. 1, Oracle said in a filing today in federal court in Oakland, California. Oracle, which is seeking billions in damages, said it needs to revise its trial plans and asked the judge to postpone the trial until Nov. 4.

SAP previously said its TomorrowNow software maintenance unit was liable for its conduct and SAP, while it owned the company, didn’t cause or contribute to the infringement, according to an Aug. 27 court filing.

“We are electing not to contest the claim for contributory copyright infringement,” Greg Lanier, SAP’s attorney, said in an e-mail contained in the court filing. The decision will allow the trial to be “substantially shortened and focused,” Lanier said in a letter to the judge today.

Oracle sued SAP in 2007. SAP, based in Walldorf, Germany, and Redwood City, California-based Oracle are the No. 1 and No. 2 makers of software for business tasks such as managing accounting, human resources and inventory.

‘Harass’ Competitors

“The point is that Oracle plainly intends to use weeks of trial to harass its competitors, whether they are parties to the case or not,” Lanier said in his letter to the judge. “There is simply no other reason to address contributory infringement at trial, because its resolution will not affect damages by one penny.”

Lanier didn’t return a voice-mail message seeking comment.

Oracle has said it may call SAP executives, including former Chief Executive Officer Leo Apotheker, to testify at the trial, court documents show. Apotheker, who was on SAP’s board when it bought TomorrowNow in 2005, was named CEO of Oracle rival Hewlett-Packard Co. on Sept. 30.

“The evidence at trial will show that the SAP Board of Directors valued Oracle’s copyrighted software so highly, they were willing to steal it rather than compete fairly,” Deborah Hellinger, an Oracle spokeswoman, said today in an e-mailed statement.

SAP said in 2007 after the lawsuit was filed that TomorrowNow made “inappropriate” downloads of support documents from Oracle and that SAP didn’t have access to Oracle materials. SAP said in July 2008 that it would close the Bryan, Texas-based unit.

The case is Oracle Corp. v. SAP AG, 07-01658, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

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