10 March 2004 Oracle and the US Department of Justice (DoJ) have agreed on a 21 June date for the hearing into the software giant’s appeal against the blocking of its bid for PeopleSoft.
The DoJ intends to prove to the court that a takeover of PeopleSoft by Oracle would significantly reduce competition in the high-end enterprise applications software market, which is dominated by just three vendors: Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP.
Oracle has pledged to “vigorously challenge” that decision. It argues that the department is defining the market too narrowly, by underestimating the influence of second-tier players and undervaluing the growing influence of Microsoft in the market.
Microsoft Business Solutions already offers four separate packages in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) segment of the market, but plans to build it into a $10 billion force by the end of the decade.
The DoJ will cite discounts offered by Oracle to compete for sales against SAP and PeopleSoft as prime evidence that the presence of PeopleSoft in the marketplace directly affects the prices and features of Oracle’s software, to the benefit of customers.
“They provide first-hand accounts from the defendant’s salespeople and executives of how competition affects pricing,” claimed the DoJ in court papers filed in San Francisco, California.
But Oracle has countered that the department’s demands for documents do not obey proper court procedures. It is demanding equal access to “highly confidential” documents and information taken by the DoJ from competitors and customers.
The trial is expected to last until late July after lawyers for Oracle and the DoJ estimated that each side will need at least two weeks to present their respective cases.