SAP to plead guilty to DOJ criminal charges

The US Department of Justice filed a criminal suit against former SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow

Former SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow will plead guilty to criminal charges of copyright infringement for downloading software from Oracle's servers.

According to documents filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, former SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow will plead guilty to all 12 criminal charges brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"TomorrowNow will wave indictment and will agree to be charged in an Information with eleven counts of Unauthorized Access to a Protected Computer with Intent to Defraud and Obtaining Something of Value," the stipulation signed by the U.S. attorney and TomorrowNow said.

The company is also pleading guilty on one count of criminal infringement of a copyright.

The authorities filed criminal charges on Wednesday and TomorrowNow settled with the DOJ on Thursday. The penalty SAP faces is unclear. "The United States will lodge an under-seal copy of the proposed plea agreement with the Court separately," according to the document. Sentencing will take place at a hearing on Sept. 14.

"We are very pleased that the Department of Justice brought criminal charges against SAP for their widespread and systematic theft of Oracle's intellectual property to which SAP has repeatedly confessed," Oracle spokesperson Deborah Heller said in an email statement.

The very rare criminal prosecution follows years of protracted litigation between Oracle and SAP. Oracle sued SAP in 2007, alleging that its former subsidiary, TomorrowNow, illegally downloaded Oracle software and support materials in the course of providing lower-cost support to Oracle customers. A jury awarded Oracle US$1.3 billion [http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9197887/Update_Oracle_awarded_1.3_billion_in_SAP_lawsuit] in damages in November 2010. SAP challenged that figure in February this year.

On Sept. 1, a federal judge overturned a $1.3 billion judgment and approved SAP's request that Oracle accept a lower award of $272 million, which would negate the need for a new trial. Oracle could still appeal that decision and Heller said that the company is considering that.

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