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SAP requests mediation in Oracle lawsuit

Trial schedule and discovery were front and center in the latest filing from Oracle's lawsuit against SAP's TomorrowNow division.

Yesterday, the timing of the trial became the latest skirmish in the legal battle between Oracle and SAP.

SAP has requested a quick resolution to Oracle's lawsuit against its TomorrowNow division and that the case be sent to mediation, while Oracle is requesting a lengthy discovery process with a trial date two years away.

Oracle and SAP submitted a case management conference statement to the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Tuesday, outlining the two companies' positions on the lawsuit. The filing is required for the next step in the case, a case management conference on September 4. The document also includes positions from each company on case scheduling and possible resolution.

In its part of the statement, SAP continued to defend itself against Oracle's charges of "corporate theft on a grand scale." SAP has admitted to "inappropriate downloads" of Oracle support materials by TomorrowNow but denies that any of those materials were provided to SAP.

"This case, in short, is about whether TomorrowNow exceeded its customers' rights in downloading certain materials," SAP's statement said. "That is not a matter of 'corporate theft on a grand scale,' as Oracle says in its complaint, but a matter of contract interpretation."

SAP requested mediation, in the form of a current or retired magistrate judge, starting in "the next few months."

Oracle, on the other hand, requested an expanded discovery phase for the case, including depositions from SAP and customers.

"This case involves tens, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of illegally downloaded software and support materials by SAP, directly implicating dozens of SAP employees and hundreds of customers all over the world," Oracle's statement said. "Oracle's allegations deserve careful, serious scrutiny and fair investigation, not the minimalist approach that SAP suggests [in its statement]."

Oracle suggested that its discovery couldn't be completed in less than 18 months, and requested a trial start date of September 29, 2009. SAP countered that the case could be ready for trial by February 2009, according to the filing.

"The discovery phase in a case like this would last anywhere between six months and a year," Hillard Sterling, an IT litigator with Freeborn & Peters LLP, a Chicago-based law firm, said in an earlier interview with "In a case with multiple players, witnesses, and layers of corporate actors, there's no way to get through discovery in less than six months."

"Oracle is going to want to see substantiating information that will either confirm its suspicions or calm its fears," Sterling said, warning that there would be literally millions of documents and emails requested by each side as part of the discovery process.

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