Oracle rivals must hand over trade documents in Justice case

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Oracle can see documents about sales and bidding from PeopleSoft., SAP and Microsoft after a judge ruled that it would impair the company's case against the US Justice Department if it could not.

District Court Judge Vaughn Walker said Oracle's ability to defend itself in the Justice Department's suit would be impaired if Oracle corporate lawyers were barred from viewing all the information turned over during the investigation of Oracle's bid for PeopleSoft.

SAP has given 81,000 documents to the government and asked to bar Oracle's in-house lawyers, from seeing about 5 per cent of the items that contain information on bids made to customers who also took offers from Oracle. PeopleSoft turned over 1 million pages to the Justice Department while Microsoft turned over 20,000 documents to the government and also sought to withhold about 5 per cent of them from Oracle's lawyers.

Dan Wall, an attorney at the law firm Latham & Watkins which represents Oracle, told Walker that information detailing SAP and PeopleSoft's sales and bidding strategies were "the core of the case" and shouldn't be held back "because of some hypothetical concern about inadvertent disclosure."

Besides Microsoft and SAP, the other companies that objected to sharing information with Oracle's in-house attorneys were Lawson Software, Siebel, Fidelity Employee Services Co., QAD, Systems & Computer Technology and SunGard Bi-Tech. An Oracle customer, the U.S. Department of Defense, also sought to shield some information.

To prevent suspicion from Oracle's rivals, Judge Walker ruled that the documents would need to be stored on a non-Oracle server and remain on each company's individual servers. The Judge said Oracle's lawyers would need to be supplied with special, secure and restricted access to the filings.

The court also turned down a request to bring in additional technical advisors for the case, opting instead to hold a tutorial to define Oracle's place in the "product landscape."

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