SAP ‘abused market dominance’, alleges EC complaint

The European Commission has opened an antitrust investigation into SAP after a smaller competitor accused the enterprise resource planning (ERP) giant of abusing its market dominance.

In a complaint filed to the EC, Texas-based software company Versata alleges that SAP “illegally excluded” it from selling to three-quarters of SAP’s largest customers by “withholding the information necessary to interoperate”.

Versata also that the German software giant "cloned" its Pricer application, which manages pricing of goods, and bundled the "clone" with its own ERP platform – a move that Versata says is in violation of a European Union treaty article on competitive practise.

According to investigation documents, the German software giant took steps to marginalise the firm after an SAP executive noticed that Versata was “raking in the cash among the SAP customers”.

“First SAP created problems for Versata’s superior product to work with SAP’s dominant enterprise software, and then SAP told customers that Versata’s product would not work properly,” claimed Thomas Vinje, counsel for the vendor.

This case is not the first time that privately-held Versata and SAP – the world’s fourth largest software company – have crossed swords. In 2007, Versata brought a case against SAP alleging that it had infringed several of its patents relating to how items are priced.

After a two-year legal battle, a Texas court ordered SAP to pay Versata around $139 million in damages, although according to Versata that case is still waiting on “several post-trial matters” to conclude.

Following a request for comment, SAP responded in an emailed statement: "SAP has not seen Versata’s complaint and can therefore not comment at this stage. Based on publicly available information, it appears the complaint is related to Versata’s US patent litigation against SAP. That litigation is ongoing."

Peter Done

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula Business Services, the personnel and employment law consultancy he set up having already built a successful betting shop business.

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