Rivals Seek Shelter in DoJ v. Oracle

Looking to prevent their trade secrets from becoming front-page news, four IT software firms have asked for the court’s protection in the U.S. Justice Department’s suit to block Oracle’s hostile bid for PeopleSoft .

Consulting firm Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, along with Oracle customer Fidelity Employee Service and rivals Lawson Software and Siebel Systems, filed additional papers Monday to shield certain parts of their business technology and best practices from becoming evidence.

The trial is scheduled to begin on June 7. The two sides are expected to give the judge a technology tutorial on May 21.

The documents, which would be seen by Oracle’s legal team and then as part of the public record, could contain detailed data on customers, competitive bids on contracts, pricing details, budgets and product information.

The U.S. Department of Justice and ten states are seeking to block
Oracle’s $9.4 billion proposal to acquire PeopleSoft by arguing that the merger between two major enterprise software providers would be anti-competitive and limit customers’ choices. Oracle is fighting to thwart the DoJ’s stance.

“As the trial date approaches, protected third parties to this action now seek the entry of a Supplemental Protective Order to set forth specific procedural safeguards allowing protected information to be used at trial while protecting third parties’ interests in keeping their trade secrets and sensitive information confidential,” the companies said in their nine-page filing.

District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker has acknowledged that confidential interests might be presented at trial but stressed that the public and media should be given equal and fair access to the proceedings.

“This is not a national security case. Putting things under wraps would be problematic,” Judge Walker said during a pre-trial conference back in April.

Many of the companies involved in the case have requested
similar protections — the U.S. Department of Defense, Microsoft and SAP being among the larger entities.

Both sides are preparing their witness lists of 25 people with five alternates. The final list could be published as early as May 18. The preliminary witness lists could also include Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway to take the stand.

Oracle said it is calling on customers, its own personnel, and other vendors to defend its case. The DoJ has already subpoenaed representatives from St. Louis-based manufacturing conglomerate Emerson Electric as well as documents and statements from Fairchild Semiconductor and Panasonic.

In related news, a federal judge has set November 1 as the trial date for PeopleSoft’s legal case against Oracle. Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft claims Oracle’s advances amount to “unfair business practices, trade libel,” and “tortuous interference” with PeopleSoft’s customer relationships.

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