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Oracle trial judge wants more disclosure

He said too much material is being filed under seal in the DOJ vs. Oracle case

By James Niccolai
June 11, 2004 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - The judge overseeing the U.S. government's case to block Oracle Corp.'s proposed takeover of PeopleSoft Inc. has grown weary of the amount of material being filed under seal and is pushing both sides to make more information public.
"It does appear to me it has gotten out of hand," Judge Vaughn Walker told lawyers for Oracle and the U.S. Department of Justice before witness testimony began yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.
The case involves hundreds of thousands of documents from Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP AG and other vendors, as well as testimony from customers. The documents, many of which have been redacted, or filed under seal, include information about how big software deals were brokered, how vendors view their competitors and other matters.
Sounding impatient, Walker said he has yet to see any materials used in the trial that reveal sensitive competitive information, and he told the battling sides that from now on, they will have to show why information would compromise a company's competitive position if they want to keep it under wraps.
"I'm going to take a much tougher line about receiving any more redacted documents, any more documents under seal going forward," Walker told attorneys for the two sides.
Earlier in the day, Oracle attorney Dan Wall told Walker that "the rubber is going to hit the road" next week about the issue of confidentiality. Among the DOJ witnesses due on the stand is Douglas Burgum, head of Microsoft's business applications unit, who is expected to testify about the extent of Microsoft's ambitions in the market for high-end ERP applications.
The trial has already forced Microsoft to reveal that it was in talks last year to acquire ERP giant SAP. Oracle uncovered the information during the discovery process and disclosed it to the court during its opening arguments on Monday.
Microsoft's lawyers are still negotiating with Oracle and the DOJ about how much more information will be made public, according to Thomas Barnett, deputy assistant attorney general.
The government has said an Oracle-PeopleSoft merger would stifle competition in the market for high-end human resources and financial management applications, resulting in higher prices. Oracle has argued there are numerous other competitors and that vendors such as Microsoft could enter the market at any time.
Later yesterday, the DOJ called Richard Allen, chief financial officer of the former J.D. Edwards & Co., which was acquired by PeopleSoft. The DOJ used his testimony to make the argument that barriers to entry are high and it isn't easy for other vendors to

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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