Oracle's suit against SAP alleging "corporate theft on a grand scale" is off to a bad start – before it even officially begins.
The suit, which has already seen one delay in the initial but crucial case management conference meeting, has been delayed yet again.
A statement released by SAP on its lawsuit Web site Sept. 11—the rescheduled date of the first joint conference, which was scheduled for Sept. 4—confirmed that "due to the unavailability of council" the meeting is postponed to Sept. 25.
The case management conference is the portion of a legal proceeding that enables both parties in a suit to briefly summarize their argument and make requests for how they would like to see the case proceed. In a joint Case Management statement filed with the court Aug. 28, SAP and Oracle requested vastly different procedures.
SAP, who is accused of illegally downloading Oracle support material through its TomorrowNow subsidiary that provides third-party support for Oracle applications, requested that the judge mandate an ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution), which typically boils down to mediation between the two parties—and negates the need for a trial.
Oracle is requesting an 18-month discovery period followed by a 2009 jury trial.
Following the case management conference, the judge typically issues an order with his or her decision on matters such as trial date, ADR and discovery schedule, according to a statement released by SAP. The judge's ruling in the Sept. 25 case management conference—assuming it occurs then—could be an indication of which way this trial will go.
Should the judge rule in SAP's favor for mediation, the case might be dead in the water as far as Oracle's claims of massive corporate theft go. If, on the other hand, the judge rules to allow Oracle's requested 18-month discovery process, then it could very likely be an indication that there's substance to Oracle's claim.
It could also be an indication that the Department of Justice has found something in its separate investigation of Oracle's claims against SAP.
Oracle initially filed suit against SAP in March claiming that SAP, through TomorrowNow, unlawfully downloaded thousands of Oracle support documents. In June, it amended the suit to include copyright infringement and breach of contract claims that included allegations of illegal hacking on SAP's part.
In July SAP's CEO Henning Kagermann admitted that some employees at TomorrowNow had downloaded more support documentation than they were authorized for, but said that neither he nor others at SAP had knowledge of any wrong doing, or ever saw TomorrowNow's documentation.
Oracle's case against SAP will be heard by the Honorable Martin J. Jenkins, a judge with the United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Francisco Division.
Author: Renee Boucher Ferguson @ eWeek.com
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