Oracle's lawsuit over alleged trade secrets theft by an SAP subsidiary seemed to be on the back burner, but heated up quickly Monday. The company announced that "several managers" and Andrew Nelson, the CEO of TomorrowNow, "have chosen to resign." Also, SAP said it is considering selling off the subsidiary.
In September, a U.S. District judge set a trial date of February 9, 2009 for the two sides to square off in court barring any settlement of the matter.
SAP said Mark White, who was appointed as Executive Chairman of TomorrowNow in July 2007 will continue in Nelson's role.
The issues in the case date back to late 2006 when Oracle discovered some TomorrowNow employees were downloading Oracle customer files for the purpose, Oracle says, of taking away some of its lucrative services business. In its complaint, Oracle claims SAP stole intellectual property and violated the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as well as the California Computer Data Access and Fraud Act.
SAP has conceded TomorrowNow engaged in "inappropriate" downloads of Oracle support materials, but SAP CEO Henning Kagermann insisted his company did not access Oracle's intellectual property.
Pund-IT analyst Charles King said SAP may have left the TomorrowNow personnel with little choice but to resign given the bad publicity the case has generated. "The last thing I think any vendor wants to have said about itself is that it's trying to cop the intellectual property of competitors," King told InternetNews.com.
Regardless of whether SAP is found guilty of anything, King said the company has to take actions to protect its brand with the trial date so far off. He also thinks TomorrowNow may be a more salable asset without the management involved in the Oracle case still on board.
An SAP spokesperson declined to comment in detail on the announcement.
"The departures are of a personal matter and not something we can discuss publicly," she said in a statement sent to InternetNews.com. "We are focused on managing through the changes so that TomorrowNow's obligations to its customers are met. And as this is an active litigation, we cannot provide much further information at this time. Discovery is ongoing and the next case management conference takes place on Feb 12, 2008."