Oracle, DOJ Request June 21 Trial

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2004-03-10

Oracle, DOJ Request June 21 Trial

Both Oracle Corp. and the U.S. Department of Justice requested a June 21 court date in documents filed to the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Tuesday.

The Justice Department filed suit last month in the U.S. District Court to block Oracles $9.4 billion takeover bid of PeopleSoft Inc.

With 10 days each to present their cases, the trial will likely last the month—and drag the Oracle/PeopleSoft saga on for at least another five months from today.

Click here to read what Oracle had to say about the DOJs rationale.

Last June, Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., waged a hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft. Shortly after, the DOJ, more than half of the nations state attorneys general and the European Commission launched antitrust investigations. On Feb. 26, the DOJ and seven states filed suit to block the controversial deal.

A decision from the European Commission is expected May 11, while the remainder of the state attorneys general have not declared their intentions in the deal.

Next page: Filings point the way to a world of wrangling.

Key trial issues

The filings yesterday are a first glimpse at the wrangling that will go on behind the scenes as this case moves toward trial.

Both sides had several issues on the table, including Oracles request for a witness list a full three months before the trial begins (30 days is standard) and its wish to have two internal lawyers privy to sensitive documentation that is currently only available to Oracles outside attorneys.

Click here to read about Microsofts sworn statement on enterprise competition.

At issue with Oracles request that internal lawyers view sensitive documents is that the lawyers would have access to sensitive information gleaned from third parties—including PeopleSoft—and may use that information as a competitive advantage, according to the DOJs filing. Oracles point is that without access, those attorneys, who will be part of the trial, essentially will be flying blind.

At the same time, Oracle contends that because the Justice Department had an eight-month lead on the trial through its initial investigation, it needs more time to discover and depose witnesses. The DOJ countered that Oracle was involved in most aspects of that investigation, knew what was going on and is not behind now.

Next page: The DOJ is seeking forms that reveal competition details.

DOJ seeks evidence of

price discrimination"> Separately, the DOJ is requesting that Oracle turn over what it deems the most important evidence in the trial: discount forms.

The forms "reveal that [Oracle] can and does engage in price discrimination in that the identification of competitors often affects the level of discounts to customers," reads the DOJs statement to the court.

The forms are evidence that in deals where PeopleSoft and SAP AG are present, Oracle discounts its software to have a better shot at winning.

"The forms are among the most direct evidence that the presence of PeopleSoft in the market directly affects prices and features of [Oracles] software," said the DOJs statement.

During its initial investigation, the DOJ had requested—and received—some forms but were denied access to the bulk of them, according to the DOJs filing.

The DOJ is basing its case on the supposition that there are three major competitors in enterprise deals: Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP AG, and that a combination of two of those companies would be bad news for customers.

Both parties appear before Judge Vaughn Walker on Wednesday to determine procedures.

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