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SAP confesses to 'inappropriate' Oracle downloads

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SAP has admitted making "inappropriate downloads" of code and supporting documents from Oracle's website through its US-based Tomorrow Now subsidiary.

The firm says it has since tightened its governance and control mechanisms, with CEO Henning Kagermann saying he "very much regret[s] this occurred".

The two firms have been locked in legal combat since March, when Larry Ellison's firm sued SAP for making illegal copies of support documents. In June, the suit was extended to include wider allegations of copyright infringement and contract breaches.

However, analysts at Ovum said the admission was unlikely to be enough to halt the lawsuit.

"The main thrust of the SAP announcement is to challenge the Oracle claims, along two main lines," Ovum software practice leader David Mitchell says.

"First, is that SAP itself had no access to material downloaded by TomorrowNow... Second, that TomorrowNow is actually entitled to access most of the material that was accessed, since it was doing so on behalf of customers who had that right of access."

Mitchell goes on to argue that although the legal tussle may have many months still to run, the real battle is in managing the perception of the fight.

"Although many will see the legal teams as the cavalry in this battle, the troops that really matter are the PR Special Forces contingent," he said.

Fittingly, Forbes reports that Kagermann was disappointed that Oracle had chosen to go straight to court over the issue, rather than approach him directly. He said: "We are strong competitors but we are also parties within the industry which has an established working practice of addressing matters of concern first between the companies rather than going directly to the court."

PR folks, tool up. Let battle commence. ®

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