Next week, SAP and Oracle will go to trial to determine damages in an intellectual property dispute that has continued since 2007. The long-running dispute centers around infringement committed by now-defunct SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow. SAP agreed to take responsibility for the infringement, but the companies have been unable to agree on how much Oracle should be paid for that violation.
In advance of the Nov. 1 trial date, however, SAP is looking to muffle Oracle. All Things Digital writer John Paczkowski reports SAP has asked a California judge to issue a gag order in the case. The request comes as a result of an article by New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, in which he called the infringement at issue in the case "one of the worst business crimes you can commit," and accused former SAP exec, now HP CEO, Leo Apotheker of failing to do anything about it even though he knew it was happening.
News that Nocera's fiancee works for the law firm representing Oracle in the case adds a new wrinkle to the situation: To the extent readers find the columnist credible, they could be swayed by his statements without realizing his connection-tenuous though it may seem-to Oracle.
SAP attormeys explained: The jurors should hear evidence and argument in court only; they should not be exposed to counsels' extrajudicial repetition of, or spin on, the in-court evidence and argument. To the extent that Oracle attorneys do comment outside the courtroom and potential jurors read or hear what they say, the jurors could be prejudiced.
The court is expected to rule on the request in a matter of days.