SAP’s co-chief apologises to Oracle for improperly downloading software files

City A.M. Reporter
A CO-CHIEF executive of German software maker SAP yesterday apologized to rival Oracle for improperly downloading thousands of software files, but that didn’t bring the two companies closer to agreement on financial reparations.

“I am sorry,” SAP co-chief executive officer Bill McDermott said in testimony yesterday as SAP kicked off its defense in a high stakes software theft case brought by Oracle in US federal court.

He apologised after a dramatic exchange with Oracle attorney David Boies, who asked him if SAP had ever apologised for the copyright infringement. McDermott said “no”. Boies asked him if he would like to do it in the courtroom.

The two companies, which dominate the global market for software that helps businesses run more efficiently, are battling in court to determine the amount of damages for copyright infringement by SAP.

SAP had previously accepted liability for its TomorrowNow subsidiary having wrongfully downloaded thousands of Oracle files. SAP argues it owes tens of millions of dollars in compensation – not the billions of dollars that Oracle seeks.

Boies also repeatedly asked McDermott whether he has ever disciplined anybody at SAP for what happened at TomorrowNow. McDermott said that his attention has been focused on resolving the case with Oracle. “It’s a matter of priorities,” McDermott said.

McDermott – who was appointed SAP’s co-chief executive officer earlier this year and was first named to the company’s executive board in 2008 – said he was not involved in the decision to buy TomorrowNow in 2005.

McDermott was previously chief executive officer of SAP Americas and head of the company’s global sales operations.

Oracle is seeking at least $2bn in damages from SAP for TomorrowNow’s download of Oracle software in what the database giant claimed was an attempt to poach PeopleSoft and Sieble customers.