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Oracle ratchets SAP 'grand-theft' allegations

Claims brass OKed 5TB heist

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Oracle has turned up the heat in its already torrid legal attack on SAP, accusing high-ranking executives throughout the German company of knowingly approving a program that illegally downloaded five terabytes worth of Oracle software and support materials.

The allegations, which expand on accusations Oracle first aired 16 months ago, came in an amended complaint filed in San Francisco federal court Monday. They contrasted sharply with statements made by SAP asserting that while illegal copying may have taken place by SAP TN, a subsidiary that resulted from SAP's acquisition of a company called TomorrowNow, a "firewall" prevented executives from the mother ship from having access to the misappropriated information.

"Oracle now amends its claims because discovery in this case has revealed that the focus of its original claims - SAP's massive illegal downloading of software and support materials from Oracle's password-protected computer systems - is just one element of a larger scheme by SAP to steal and misuse Oracle's intellectual property," Oracle's amended complaint states. "In addition to the illegal downloads, SAP - with the knowledge of members of the SAP AG executive board of directors - made thousands of copies of Oracle's underlying software application on its computer systems."

The expanded allegations come several weeks after SAP said it's winding down the SAP TN subsidiary. It was filed a day before SAP is scheduled to release second-quarter financial results.

SAP representatives weren't available at time of writing. An SAP spokesman declined to comment on the allegations to the Associated Press.

Using a program tool dubbed "Titan," SAP spent years scraping Oracle's website for software applications, updates and instruction manuals, Oracle alleges. The program collected more than five terabytes of misappropriated data. One SAP server alone analyzed by Oracle investigators turned up almost 8 million downloaded pieces of data.

It was all part of a plan to boost an SAP initiative known as "Safe Passage," designed to help Oracle customers switch to SAP products. SAP employees compared updated Oracle products that were misappropriated against the previous versions to derive updates, which would then be delivered as fixes to SAP customers, the complaint claims. SAP employees also re-purposed Oracle instruction manuals, guides and other support materials into SAP documentation.

Members of SAP AG, in Germany, and SAP America, in the US, accessed the pilfered materials using a special link on SAP TN's website.

Oracle goes on to allege that SAP's top brass was in on the plan from the beginning. In January 2005, SAP CEO Henning Kagermann and board members Shai Agassi, Werner Brandt and Gerd Oswald received a confidential memo that "made clear that TomorrowNow did not operate legally" and "detailed how TomorrowNow relied on 'non-production' copies" of software from PeopleSoft, which Oracle would later go on to acquire.

Once SAP acquired TomorrowNow, executives conspired to cover up the scheme. Dubbed "Project Blue," the program was outlined in confidential internal presentations that, according to Oracle, were accompanied by instructions to "PLEASE DELETE AFTER READING." ®

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