Oracle Rivals Block Trade Secrets in Court


The U.S. Department of Defense and several IT companies supporting the
Justice Department’s lawsuit against Oracle to block its purchase of PeopleSoft have asked a federal judge this week to shelter their inside trade secrets.

The companies are responding to Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruling last week
that Oracle’s in-house attorneys should be granted access to “all”
testimony submitted by the DoJ.

In court papers filed Monday, the DOD said it has “competitively
sensitive information” that could give Oracle “an unfair advantage during
the competitive procurement process or contract negotiations.”

Likewise, Microsoft , SAP and niche
software vendors such as Lawson Software and QAD also asked the U.S. District Court in San Francisco to block
certain parts of their business technology and best practices from being
entered as evidence. The government and seven states are looking to block
Oracle’s controversial $9.4 billion PeopleSoft bid.

Microsoft and the others are part of 33 different entities working with
the Justice Department and supporting its case. The government’s argument
suggests that the number of firms offering a full array of enterprise
resource planning (ERP) tools (Human Resource Management or Financial
Management Services) is currently limited to three: German-owned SAP , Oracle and PeopleSoft and that a merger between Oracle and
PeopleSoft would limit a customer’s choices.


The Redmond, Wash.-based
software giant has already cooperated with the DoJ in support of its case.


In a sworn statement filed this
month, Microsoft said it has no such plans to enter the same business market
as Oracle within the next two years. A Microsoft spokesperson told internetnews.com the company is seeking to prevent Oracle lawyers from viewing about 5 percent of about 19,000 to 20,000 pages submitted to the DoJ.

Oracle’s defense is that it competes on the broader software market
facing stiff competition from Microsoft , IBM and other mid-tier players.

As for the projected outcome of the trial, analysts like Forrester Research Director
director Paul 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 the customer assurance
program. Then there are other issues.”

Case in point: Oracle received a “statement of objections” from the
European Commission (EC) last week, although the specifics of the complaint
along with the EC’s final decision are expected to be issued on or before
May 11.

Adding to that, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), a proxy
advisory firm, has come out in opposition to Oracle’s takeover plans and
recommended that stockholders vote for PeopleSoft’s four director nominees.
While the conclusion of both the DoJ’s case and the EC’s ruling would need
to be resolved first, Rockville, Md.-based ISS said it believes “Oracle’s
initial threats of dropping support to PeopleSoft customers in a successful
takeover scenario are legitimate concerns for PeopleSoft customers.”

Yankee Group senior analyst Mike Dominy, who has been following Oracle’s
bid to take over PeopleSoft since the bid was announced last June, says with
so many obstacles in the way, the DoJ case may never even get to a full
trial.

“What they will need to do is settle out of court if this trail looks
like it will take a long time to resolve,” Dominy told
internetnews.com “I believe that Oracle has had multiple contingency
plans well before the DoJ made their ruling. If Oracle stumbles at all on
their revenue, they will get pressure from shareholders. Given the assets of
Oracle, they can keep this suit with the Justice Department going for a
while, but it is messy and it is a distraction.”

The trial is scheduled to begin on June 7. Both sides are scheduled to
give updates in a March 19 phone conference. Lawyers are expected to be back
in the courtroom April 16 to set additional pre-trial motion dates.

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