DoJ, Oracle to Set Legal Ground Rules

Lawyers with the U.S. Department of Justice, Oracle , and PeopleSoft are scheduled to meet in court Wednesday to hammer out a trial schedule and pretrial motions over Oracle’s hostile bid for PeopleSoft.

A DoJ spokesperson told that the Case Management Conference for The United States et al vs. Oracle will include conferring with Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft on how the case is going to be handled even before it even goes to trial. Both the DoJ and PeopleSoft are looking to block Oracle’s controversial bid to buy PeopleSoft for $9.4 billion.

In court documents filed Tuesday, each side asked District Judge Vaughn R. Walker for a June 21 trial date with the assumption that both sides would need at least ten days to present their cases. The two sides have bantered about the issue with March 22 as a good cutoff point for the discovery phase of the trial, but the issue has not been completely settled. Analysts suggest the landmark case could last about five months.

In its plaintiffs’ statement, the DoJ accused Oracle of refusing to provide key evidence in the case including “Discount Forms” the company used in selling software and services. Oracle countered, saying it needs time to “catch up” with the government’s eight-month head start.

Oracle is trying to prove that its hostile play for PeopleSoft is not anticompetitive, as the DoJ alleges. Oracle is faced with the task of convincing the DoJ that the applications market for large businesses includes more than just the big three of German giant SAP , Oracle and PeopleSoft.

The DoJ prompted the trial after opposition to Oracle’s latest offer for rival PeopleSoft. The DoJ filed suit to block the deal February 27. Oracle has vowed to challenge the DoJ’s suit in court.

Company spokeswoman Jennifer Glass would not comment directly on the case but said the software vendor also filed several documents Tuesday with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco in order to help define its case.

Lawyers for the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle submitted a Joint Case Management Statement and Proposed Order; a Protective Order; the Plaintiff’s statement for disputed issues; and Oracle’s statement in reference to disputed issues.

Giga Research director Paul Hamerman said after the discovery phase is over, the courts could be busy picking apart and analyzing the different online sectors impacted by Oracle’s unsolicited bid for PeopleSoft, including defining Human Resource Management and Financial Management Services.

“I’ve studied this market and the only other U.S. vendor that would come into play here in favor of providing competition to Oracle would be Lawson Software,” Hamerman told “They’re a $400 million company with a financial backing system as well as a HR system, which focuses on healthcare, retail and some other Oracle spaces.”

Addressing the broader market, Hamerman said that certainly Oracle’s strategy is to gain share in the market full of companies running below $500 million in revenues, a space currently dominated by Microsoft.

In another twist to the case Microsoft has reportedly confirmed it has offered the Justice Department a sworn statement that says it has no plans to enter the same business market as Oracle within the next two years.

“As far as the options available to large enterprises in HR and financials, there just really isn’t much competition besides SAP,” Hamerman said.

As for the projected outcome of the trial, Hamerman said the DoJ’s case is only one roadblock standing in the way of Oracle’s goal.

“The odds are stacked against Oracle,” he said. “The poison pill remains and PeopleSoft has created the liability around [its] customer assurance program. Then there are other issues we’re not being told about.”

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