Microsoft Mulls Protective Order Against Oracle
Microsoft submitted thousands of documents to the U.S. Department of Justice during the DOJs preliminary investigation into Oracles $9.4 billion bid for rival PeopleSoft Inc. Once the DOJ filed suit against Oracle in February, those documents became evidence that Oracles legal team is privy to.
Last week Microsoft, along with software developers SAP AG, Lawson Software Inc. and QAD Inc., appealed to the U.S. District Court of California to restrict Oracles in-house attorneys from having access to their sensitive documents, for fear that competitive information would be leaked internally. The U.S. Department of Defense and Fidelity Employer Services made similar requests.
On Friday, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in favor of Oracle, enabling the companys in-house attorneys to have the same access to documents that is granted the outside legal team.
That decision is not sitting well with Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash.
"We will want to appropriately protect information we deem as being confidential to Microsoft," said Doug Burgum, senior vice president of Microsofts Business Solutions division.
Burgum said he is not the legal representation for Microsoft, nor does he have the final word on what action will be taken.
However, he is clear in Microsofts intent.
"If we get asked to supply 20,000 pages of documents, it is appropriate for the Department of Justice not to share that information," said Burgum at the Microsoft Convergence 2004 conference here. "Our next step would be to file a protective order to stop Oracle" from viewing competitive information.
Burgum said he is not sure what information the documents containor if his e-mails were part of a Justice Department sweepbut, he said, Microsoft will never be comfortable with the competition viewing insider information.
A Microsoft spokeswoman declined to comment on the companys official actions in regard to Walkers ruling.
Burgum also defended Microsofts stance as a small and midmarket applications provider, and said the company will continue in that mode for the foreseeable future. Microsoft confirmed previously with the Justice Department that it has no plans to enter the enterprise applications market for at least the next two years, according to news reports.
The Justice Department is suing Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., on the grounds that a consolidation of it and PeopleSoft would shrink competition at the upper levels of the application sales market from three companiesOracle, PeopleSoft and SAPto two.
Oracles defense is that the market is much broader and can support consolidation. Officials there have continually pointed to Microsoft as an encroaching competitor that will begin selling enterprise applications just about any minute.
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