SAP admits 'inappropriate' Oracle downloads

Software company has condemned some downloads made by its subsidiary TomorrowNow as 'unacceptable', but denies it had access to Oracle intellectual property

Business applications software company SAP has admitted that its subsidiary TomorrowNow made some "inappropriate" downloads of Oracle software, but has denied it had access to Oracle intellectual property.

In a filing to the US District Court in San Francisco on Monday, SAP said that TomorrowNow, which resells Oracle support as part of its business, was "authorised to download material from Oracle's website" on behalf of TomorrowNow customers.

However, SAP admitted that "some inappropriate downloads of [Oracle] fixes and support documents occurred at TomorrowNow", and said this was "unacceptable".

"Even a single inappropriate download is unacceptable from my perspective. We regret very much that this occurred," said Henning Kagermann, chief executive officer of SAP AG. "I want to reassure our investors, customers, partners and employees that SAP takes any departure from the high standards we set for all of our businesses very seriously, regardless of where it occurred or how confined it may be," Kagermann added in a statement.

However, SAP denied that it had access to Oracle intellectual property through its subsidiary.

"What was downloaded at TomorrowNow stayed in that subsidiary's separate systems. SAP did not have access to Oracle intellectual property via TomorrowNow," said SAP in the statement.

In March, Oracle accused SAP of hacking into Oracle's customer support centre and downloading copies of its proprietary software code. In a filing, Oracle alleged SAP and TomorrowNow engaged in computer fraud and abuse, computer data access and fraud and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. Oracle later amended the suit to allege TomorrowNow had breached its copyright and contracts.

Oracle said that in late November it noticed an unusually heavy volume of download activity on Oracle's password-protected customer support and maintenance site for its PeopleSoft and JD Edwards customers.

In a review of the Customer Connection site, Oracle alleged that it found more than 10,000 illicit downloads in which customers with expired, or soon-to-expire, support and maintenance contracts had accessed the support and maintenance site. Oracle claimed that one common thread among all the customers with allegedly misappropriated customer IDs is that they were about to become, or had recently become, an SAP TomorrowNow customer.

While SAP on Monday admitted that some inappropriate downloads occurred at TomorrowNow, it claimed that most materials had been downloaded appropriately.

However, to try to ensure compliance with appropriate business practices at TomorrowNow in future, SAP said it had appointed SAP America's chief operating officer, Mark White, as TomorrowNow's executive chairman to manage TomorrowNow operations, including compliance programs. Andrew Nelson, TomorrowNow's chief executive, will now report to White, said SAP.

White will oversee the enforcement of existing procedures and new policies, and training for TomorrowNow employees to ensure they understand the policies and procedures, SAP said in the statement.

Dawn Kawamoto of CNET News.com contributed to this article.