SAP AG has asked a U.S. court to order settlement talks in its legal battle with Oracle Corp., arguing that Oracle exaggerated its claims against the German software maker. Oracle said it opposed such talks and accused SAP of trying to "make this case go away."
In court papers Tuesday, SAP picked several holes in Oracle's lawsuit, which was filed in March against SAP and its TomorrowNow Inc. 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 Sept. 4. 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 within 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. Further, the downloads that Oracle has uncovered 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 22-page filing in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California presents two sharply opposing views of how the case should proceed. Oracle said the matter is highly complex and requires lengthy discovery, including depositions from dozens of customers. It asked for a trial date in September 2009. SAP says the scope of the case is narrower and interviewing so many customers is unnecessary. It wants a trial date in February 2009 or earlier.
The issues will be discussed at the case management conference Sept. 4, and the court will probably issue an order with its decisions after that, SAP said.
TomorrowNow provides support for customers who bought Oracle's PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards applications. It is permitted to download software updates, patches and other support materials for its customers from Oracle's Customer Connection Web site, but only when they have current support agreements, and only to use with those customers.