SAP Watch

Jan 2 2009   1:52PM GMT

Will third-party support get a verdict?

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

SAP just managed to complete another chapter in its ongoing legal saga with Oracle before 2008 came to a close, requesting a jury trial.

SAP filed its answer to Oracle’s third amended complaint, just before the New Year in the United States District Court in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, another settlement conference is scheduled for next month, and a federal judge has ordered SAP and Oracle to come up with a settlement figure in preparation for it.

While the courtroom battle may have little long-term impact on SAP customers it’s certainly interesting reading. There could be one effect, however — its implications on the availability of third-party software support.

If there’s a monetary settlement, and neither party admits to anything, there may be no answer to just what is and isn’t legal when it comes to third-party support. That may discourage start-ups.

Will a jury verdict better clear up these boundaries, and encourage more providers to spring up? Or is a verdict just as likely to be complicated and ambiguous?

Oracle continues to allege that SAP execs knew TomorrowNow could pose legal problems, and knowingly went forward with an illegal operation. SAP has said TomorrowNow did inappropriately download some Oracle support materials, but SAP didn’t know about it.

“Plaintiffs rely on snippets and excerpts of documents to construct a tale of intrigue, when the truth is far simpler, though less exciting,” according to SAP’s latest filing. “SAP bought [TomorrowNow] with the hope that providing ‘Oracle’ customers a choice in maintenance might give them the time to consider alternative, and better, enterprise software.”

“This case…is simply about whether TN exceeded its rights to access Plaintiffs’ computers, whether that harmed Plaintiffs, and, if so, by how much,” the document states. 

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