HOT - Oracle sues SAP for Criminal Acts
According to this
complaint, Oracle is accusing SAP of a number of criminal acts,
including theft, receipt of stolen property and violations of the Federal
and California Computer Fraud and Abuse
We also see lesser civil claims of Unfair
Competition, Intentional and Negligent Interference with Prospective
Economic Advantage and Civil Conspiracy.
Worst of all, Oracle claims that they have been permanently
damaged: "Oracle has also suffered irreparable injury from these
acts", a risky admission that might backfire in the high tech
A case of global magnitude
This will be the biggest landmark case of the 21st century
because it crosses global jurisdictions. Of course, deceptive
business practices laws are quite different in Germany, and their
own laws are quite foreign to people in the USA., For example,
a German was
extradited to foreign prison for web
sentenced to five years in prison for "inciting racial hatred".
Given the worldwide nature of these global giants and the vastly
different laws, Oracle's first challenge will be securing
jurisdiction, and we can bet that SAP will put-up a strong defense
that the "most appropriate" jurisdiction will be the one whose laws
condone their acts.
If proven true, these acts will be a disgrace to SAP and will
surely tarnish their reputation in the IT marketplace, a community
that cherishes above-board competition and severely punishes
Details on the charges
I'm not a lawyer, but
I've read many such complaints in my work with Oracle Forensics, and this
complaint is not very sophisticated, as-if it was meant to be
interpreted by non-lawyers. The thrust of the lawsuit states:
"Oracle brings this lawsuit after discovering that SAP is
engaged in systematic, illegal access to – and taking from –
Oracle’s computerized customer support systems.
Through this scheme, SAP has stolen thousands of proprietary,
copyrighted software products and other confidential materials
that Oracle developed to service its own support customers.
SAP gained repeated and unauthorized access, in many cases by
use of pretextual customer log-in credentials, to Oracle’s
proprietary, password-protected customer support website. From
that website, SAP has copied and swept thousands of Oracle
software products and other proprietary and confidential
materials onto its own servers."
Inside Oracle's laundry list of offenses, we see
this criminal charge, direct from the California penal codes.
Computer Data Access and Fraud Act
"knowingly and fraudulently, and without permission, accessing,
taking, copying, and making use of programs, data, and files from
Oracle’s computers, computer system, and/or computer network".
Violation of Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
"- intentionally accessing a computer used for
interstate commerce or
communication, without authorization or by exceeding authorized
access to such a computer."
"- knowingly, and with intent to defraud Oracle, accessing a
without authorization or by exceeding authorized access to such a
computer, and by means of such conduct furthered the intended fraud
and obtained one or more things of value."
Oracle also charges SAP with copyright infringement under 17
U.S.C. § 501
"[In] January 2007, a user on an SAP TN computer
signed in as Oracle customer Honeywell International, Inc., a
Fortune 100 technology and manufacturing company, to access
Oracle’s support system and copy literally thousands of Oracle’s
Software and Support Materials in virtually every product
library in every line of business."
Interference with prospective economic advantage
Tortuous Interference cases are sometimes tied to Civil
conspiracy laws because Federal Statutes have strong prohibitions
against any groups who conspire to injure the reputation of an
individual or business. The complaint charges:
"SAP has been engaged in a systematic program of unfair,
unlawful, and deceptive business practices that continues to
Through its illegitimate and illegal business
practices, SAP has taken Oracle’s Software and Support Materials
and apparently used them to insinuate itself into Oracle’s
customer base, and to attempt to convert these customers to SAP
The complaint continues with a damning
allegation, an almost textbook example of tortuous interference:
"Beginning in January 2005, SAP sales representatives
unleashed a torrent of marketing materials designed to
exacerbate and leverage perceived, albeit unfounded, PeopleSoft
and JDE customer uncertainty about the prospects for long-term,
quality support from Oracle."
Interference with prospective economic advantage is a crime
commonly-referred-to as "tortuous interference", a crime where a
business competitor intentionally trashes their competition.
I've seen this happen with competing book authors where one jealous
author attacks the reputation of another author with exaggeration
In the United States, tortuous interference claims are made when
someone publishes statements designed to interfere with another
normal course of business.
The elements of the tort of interference are:
(1) a valid contract between plaintiff and a third person that
confers upon plaintiff a contractual right against a third
(2) the defendant knows of the contract;
(3) the defendant intentionally induces the third person not to
perform the contract;
(4) the defendant acts without justification; and
(5) the defendant's conduct causes actual pecuniary harm to
To prevail in a Tortuous Interference claim Oracle must prove
that a SAP knew about the business relationship, interfered with
their relationship, and that SAP was unjustified in doing so. It can
even include innuendo, like this:
- "I cannot believe that people actually pays Waldo's Widgets
- "I feel sorry for anyone unfortunate enough to use Waldo's
- "Waldo's Widgets products are shoddy and poorly made"
- "I wonder if their clients know what serial offenders
Waldo's Widgets are?"
- "Amy Author's article is wrong, it's a fact, not my opinion"
- "The owner of Waldo's Widgets is a fraud"