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10/12/2010
11:45 AM
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: Larry Ellison Will Be Crucial Witness At Oracle-SAP Trial

As the court decides how much SAP must pay Oracle, Ellison will describe the harm done to Oracle by the actions of SAP's former subsidiary.

The damages portion of the Oracle-SAP trial is slated to begin in the Bay Area Nov. 1, and the list of witnesses Oracle intends to call includes many of SAP's top executives, including SAP founder and chairman Hasso Plattner, plus a number of Oracle's own top brass, led by CEO Larry Ellison.

The case stems from unauthorized of downloads of Oracle software by former SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow, for which SAP has admitted legal responsibility. SAP has also agreed to pay "reasonable" damages to Oracle, and the trial's damages phase beginning next month will seek to determine just whose definition of reasonable will prevail.

SAP clearly says in a statement about the litigation that while it is taking responsibility and is willing to pay damages, it disagrees with Oracle on what those damages should be: "SAP is committed to compensating Oracle for the harm the limited operations of TomorrowNow actually caused. Oracle's unreasonable damages claims are an unproductive distraction as we work to find a fair resolution in this case."

Nevertheless, Oracle might think that for the harm it suffered, compensatory damages of several hundred million dollars would constitute the very essence of reason, whereas SAP would likely define reasonable more in the range of $15 million (or less).

Along the way, Oracle intends to make its case for a huge judgment via the testimonies of a slew of witnesses, including about 40 people who had been employees of TomorrowNow at the time the Oracle software was downloaded, plus SAP executives past and present (highlighted by former SAP CEO Leo Apotheker, who is now CEO of Hewlett-Packard), plus about 30 Oracle employees including Ellison, president Safra Catz, former president Charles Phillips, and executive Juergen Rottler, who at the time was in charge of Oracle customer services.

Oracle submitted its list of witnesses it intends to call on August 5 (case 4:07-cv-01658-PJH, document 742, United States District Court, Northern California District, Oakland Division), and associated with each witness is a "brief description of substance of testimony" that reveals what Oracle's attorneys will be discussing with each witness.

Based on those descriptions, here's a glimpse at what you can expect to hear from Oracle executives and SAP executives under questioning from Oracle's attorneys, who will be attempting to show that the knowledge of TomorrowNow's actions was widespread within SAP and that those actions therefore call for SAP to pay damages to Oracle that more closely reflect Oracle's definition of reasonable than SAP's.

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And while every witness holds the possibility to offer insightful information affecting the determination of the damages, the testimony that will likely provide enormous impact will come from Oracle CEO Ellison, who will address among other things the "harm to Oracle" of SAP's acquisition of TomorrowNow.

Here's the full description of what Ellison will be talking about from the witness stand:

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