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Oracle, SAP Spar Over Discovery

UPDATED: The legal strategy is unfolding between enterprise software rivals Oracle and SAP over Oracle's lawsuit charging that SAP stole massive amounts of its intellectual property.

SAP is on the offensive, accusing Oracle of being too "dramatic" and inaccurate with its allegations that SAP's TomorrowNow subsidiary engaged in "massive theft" by downloading materials from Oracle's site and profiting from them.

In a filing ahead of a hearing next week, SAP is asking a federal district San Francisco court to speed up the discovery process involved in the case. It also wants a special judge to provide mediation on some key issues in the lawsuit.

"It is in the best interest of all concerned, including our customers, for this case to be resolved promptly. We believe that it can be, despite Oracle's position," SAP said in filings ahead of the joint conference scheduled for Sept. 4th.

The German software giant has already conceded that its TomorrowNow subsidiary engaged in "some inappropriate downloads of fixes and support documents" at Oracle. But it also contends that it was authorized to download materials from Oracle's Web site on behalf of TomorrowNow customers.

SAP insists that none of the material that TomorrowNow downloaded found its way into SAP's hands.

Oracle isn't buying that and argued in its own filing that SAP is trying to deflect attention from the core issues involved with how that material may have been used by its rival.

"On the one hand, SAP admits it improperly downloaded Oracle's intellectual property, and reveals that the Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into the matter," the company said.

"On the other hand, SAP wants to sweep the whole affair under the rug by limiting discovery for a few short months to just its TomorrowNow subsidiary, by forcing early settlement talks without adequate discovery and by asking the court and Oracle to take its word that SAP America and SAP AG knew nothing about his activity and did not benefit from it."

Quite the dramatic approach, SAP countered, while pointing out that Oracle's argument "ignores that TomorrowNow, on behalf of its customers, had a right to access Oracle's Customer Connection Web site and to download support materials for the customers."

"It ignores that the downloads were performed by TomorrowNow, not SAP America or SAP AG. It ignores that none of the support materials downloaded by TomorrowNow were provided to SAP America or SAP AG. This case, in short, is about whether TomorrowNow exceeded its customers' rights in downloading certain materials. That is not a matter of 'corporate theft on a grand scale', as Oracle says in its complaint, but a matter of contract interpretation."

Oracle is asking for the trial to begin in September 2009. Updates prior version on filings, joint and separate.