John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Oracle Lands Early Shots in SAP Trial

If SAP finds Oracle’s claim for $2 billion in damages in the pairs’ long-running legal battle to be excessive, the figures offered by former Oracle President Charles Phillips must seem outright profligate.

Testifying in an Oakland, Calif., courtroom Thursday, Phillips–who once managed marketing and large-customer relations at Oracle–said his former employer would have charged SAP billions of dollars for a license to use the IP that its TomorrowNow subsidiary illegally downloaded. For something like that, Phillips said, you “would ask for $3 billion or $4 billion and you’d want it up front.”

A nasty blow for SAP, which contends it owes Oracle only $40 million. And only the first of several struck yesterday.

In a videotaped deposition shown to jurors, former SAP executive board member Shai Agassi testified that SAP acquired TomorrowNow in the hopes of taking maintenance revenues away from Oracle. Worse, he said the company was well aware of the risk that Oracle would sue over the acquisition. “There’s always a chance Oracle could sue,” he said. “Oracle would sue if we dripped sandwich sauce on its lawn.”

Or, as former TomorrowNow developer John Ritchie testified, if it discovered a Web scraper sucking copyrighted materials off its support Web site and “hammering their servers so hard…it was like a denial of service attack.”

Another ugly blow. And then there was this from Agassi, who, in remarks that must have had Hewlett-Packard’s board of directors scrambling for the Mylanta, fingered current HP CEO and former SAP chief Léo Apotheker as one of two executives charged with overseeing TomorrowNow after SAP acquired the company. “I was the guy who led the evaluation together with Werner Brandt,” Agassi said. “[On] the day of the acquisition it was basically moved to [board member] Gerhard Oswald and the sales effort for it was moved over to Apotheker.”

Damaging stuff, anyway you look at it–though this is just one side of the case. Oracle has clearly thrown and landed some roundhouse punches so far, but SAP will have its chance to counter them and throw a few of its own in due time.

Question is, will it still be standing when that time finally comes.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald