Oracle-SAP retrial delayed

Proceedings won't start for at least several more months

Oracle and SAP will have to wait a bit longer to retry their corporate-theft lawsuit, according to a filing made Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The previously set start date of June 18 has been vacated and now the SAP-Oracle retrial "will trail a criminal trial set to begin on August 27," according the filing

The change was due to a scheduling conflict affecting Oracle's legal team, SAP spokesman James Dever said Monday via email. Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined comment.

SAP has already admitted liability for illegal downloads of Oracle software and support materials that were conducted by a former subsidiary, TomorrowNow, which offered lower-cost support to Oracle customers. A jury in the first trial awarded Oracle US$1.3 billion in November 2010 but that award was set aside. Oracle declined to accept a lower amount, and instead opted for a new trial on damages.

In a joint filing made last week prior to the trial's delay, Oracle indicated it plans to attack the validity of SAP's admission of liability.

"It is a common enough strategy for a defendant that cannot avoid liability to claim that it accepts responsibility for the harm it has caused," Oracle attorneys wrote. "The purpose of that time-honored tactic is to build credibility with the jury by establishing that the defendant is not hiding anything, and asks only that it be held to a just account. SAP is entitled to tell the jury that story."

However, "trials are about credibility, and Oracle is entitled to tell the jury the different story that SAP's top two executives have told the world," Oracle added, referring to SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner and co-CEO Bill McDermott. "Outside of Court, when they thought trial had ended, SAP's executives boasted publicly that SAP's offer to take responsibility for its misdeeds is nothing more than a self-serving gambit to reduce the damages it owes."

SAP attorneys responded to Oracle's claims, saying they show that the company "plans to present a case about liability and punishment, not damages."

"Descriptions of Defendants' business and legal reasons for stipulating to liability are not probative of any issue related to damages," SAP attorneys added. Oracle will use these statements to conflate the issues of liability and damages, and it will attempt to convince the jury that liability has not been fully resolved--all in an effort to increase the jury's award."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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