SAP co-CEO “sorry” over Oracle IP theft

SAP’s co-CEO Bill McDermott has made a courtroom apology to arch rival Oracle over the theft of intellectual property by former subsidiary TomorrowNow.

The apology is the latest development in the high-profile legal battle between business applications giants SAP and Oracle.

In August 2010, SAP admitted liability for copyright infringement after employees at its TomorrowNow unit downloaded large volumes of software and support materials from Oracle’s website. TomorrowNow, which was shutdown as a result of the dispute, provided support services for Oracle subsidiary PeopleSoft.

Taking the witness stand on Monday this week, McDermott conceded that SAP management had not monitored the actions of TomorrowNow, acquired by SAP five years ago, closely enough. "They were doing things that required much closer scrutiny," he testified. "I am sorry for that."

Oracle is demanding $1.7 billion in compensation, while SAP values damages at $40 million. In its most recent financial results, Germany’s SAP allocated a further $60 million in funds toward the Oracle lawsuit, taking the total amount reserved for the TomorrowNow case to $160 million.

Other witnesses to have featured in the trial so far include Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and co-president Safra Catz.

Current Hewlett-Packard chief and former SAP CEO Leo Apotheker had been widely expected to give testimony during the trial. In an interesting twist to proceedings however, Oracle’s legal representatives claim they have so far been unable to ascertain the whereabouts of Apotheker, who took up his post at HP on 1 November. Last week, the Reuters news agency reported that Apotheker had turned up in Japan.

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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