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New Holdup in SAP-Oracle Lawsuit

The long-drawn-out war between SAP and Oracle is going nowhere fast.

Since first filing charges against SAP over allegations of industrial espionage, Oracle has twice amended its complaint against the German software firm. SAP had been scheduled to respond in court yesterday to Oracle's second amended complaint, which it filed July 28.

Instead, both parties agreed to propose amendments to the case's filing schedule that would allow Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) to make yet another amended complaint, according to a stipulation filed yesterday by the two sides (available here in PDF format).

As a result, that means SAP (NYSE: SAP) will not yet have to respond to the July 28 filing. Both also agreed that SAP would be able to consider the proposed amendments by Oracle before deciding whether to respond to the July 28 complaint, or to hold off and consider a stipulation that would let Oracle file a third amended complaint.

Meanwhile, Oracle agreed not to expand the scope of the case's evidence-gathering phase through its additional amendment, and also pledged not to change the overall schedule of the case -- a move that, at least in theory, aims to avoid further prolonging the case and increasing the reduce the drain on both parties' resources.

This is the tamest the lawsuit has been so far. In March 2007, Oracle accused SAP of "massive theft" in California's Northern District Court in San Francisco over allegations that SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow illegally downloaded "thousands" of mission-critical items from Oracle's knowledge bases. TomorrowNow provided third-party maintenance and support for Oracle's PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards products.

The suit ultimately forced SAP CEO Henning Kagermann to concede wrongdoing at TomorrowNow and announce that it would shut down the unit by Oct. 31.

In the meantime, Oracle has to provide its proposed third amended complaint and supplemental related documents by Sept. 29, and SAP must say within a week whether it would agree to Oracle's filing that complaint.

If SAP does not agree to the filing in a stipulation, Oracle may move to amend the July 28 complaint giving its rival a week to respond. On the other hand, if SAP does stipulate to the filing, the company will respond to that complaint within a week of it being filed.

Should SAP opt to file a motion, rather than an answer, in response to either Oracle's July 28 complaint or its third amended complaint, the two will "work together to develop a mutually agreeable extended briefing schedule for any opposition and reply papers," yesterday's motion said.