Oracle Sues SAP
March 23, 2007
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A few days ago, Oracle sued SAP in what could turn into a very ugly case. Depending on the merits and outcome of this case (which I’ll get to shortly), it could mean a rude wake-up call for any firm doing ERP consulting work. I won’t recap the case too much here. If you want to read about it, check out Frank Scavo’s Enterprise System Spectator (http://fscavo.blogspot.com/2007/03/oracle-sues-sap-and-its-tomorrownow.html). By the way, if you aren’t a regular reader of Frank’s blog, you should be.
In my mind, this case boils down to two pivotal points:
1. A third-party consulting firm downloading software from an ERP vendor, using one of their client’s support IDs. This is a common practice in the marketplace, it’s not a theft of any trade secrets (as a consultant you’re an agent working on behalf of the client). So, if that’s all this case is about, I’d say that it’s not much of a case at all.
2. If, on the other hand Tomorrow Now (and/or SAP’s) real motivation is more than that–say to really steal Oracle’s intellectual property–that’s another case altogether.
What makes this case even more interesting for the rest of us is the message it may send. If you’re not an employee of the client or the software vendor, you can’t download from the vendor’s website, or otherwise use any material. And, I’d says that’s restraint of trade. I’m sure Lawson is watching this case closely, and will likely amend the support contracts (and click-through agreement you acknowledge when you download software) to its advantage.