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Oracle accuses SAP of stealing

March 23, 2007|From the Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Oracle Corp. on Thursday accused SAP of hacking into its computers to steal secret product information in a lawsuit that escalates the animosity between two of the world's largest business software makers.

"This isn't really about protecting intellectual property," Forrester Research analyst Ray Wang said.

"This is all about the art of war."

The complaint, filed in a San Francisco federal court, alleges that Germany-based SAP resorted to high-tech skulduggery in a desperate attempt to maintain its leadership in business applications software -- programs that help companies manage a wide range of administrative tasks.

Long the leader in database software, Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle has been muscling up in the business applications market during a three-year shopping spree that has cost more than $20 billion. Larry Ellison, Oracle's chief executive, believes the expansion will provide his company with the firepower to surpass SAP in the $20-billion business applications market.

As part of its counterattack, SAP has been building up a massive library of Oracle's computer coding so it can woo away some of its rival's customers, according to the 44-page lawsuit.

"This theft appears to be an essential -- and illegal -- part of SAP's competitive strategy against Oracle," the complaint says.

SAP was still reviewing the lawsuit Thursday and had no immediate comment, spokesman Steve Bauer said.

Oracle is seeking an injunction against SAP, as well as unspecified general and punitive damages.

Honeywell International Inc., Merck & Co., OCE Technologies, SPX Corp. and Metro Machine Corp. are among the Oracle customers who have recently defected to SAP for product support, according to the suit.

But the suit alleges that SAP didn't have enough information or adequate resources to support Oracle's software, triggering the clandestine raids on Oracle's computers.

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