German software firm SAP has admitted that its subsidiary TomorrowNow carried out "inappropriate downloads" of protected documents belonging to archrival Oracle but denies that it accessed the material itself.
Oracle filed a lawsuit against SAP in March that accuses the German software firm of hacking into its customer support systems and stealing its protected software. The suit, filed in the US Federal District Court for Northern California, names SAP and TomorrowNow as defendants and accuses them of "corporate theft on a grand scale".
In a written response to Oracle's claims, SAP says TomorrowNow was authorised to download materials from Oracle's Web site, and most downloads had been for the legitimate purpose of helping customers, but admits that some "inappropriate downloads of fixes and support documents occurred".
In a statement SAP CEO Henning Kagermann says: "Even a single inappropriate download is unacceptable from my perspective. We regret very much that this occurred."
But SAP insists that the downloaded material had stayed in TomorrowNow's separate systems and that it had no access to the information due to a firewall. SAP says it intentionally created a business structure that maintained a firewall between TomorrowNow and SAP and it is "satisfied that SAP or SAP America did not access Oracle intellectual property via TomorrowNow".
"Oracle's allegation that TN's (TomorrowNow's) downloading conduct was 'corporate theft' or involved SAP AG or SAP America is simply untrue," says the response document.
SAP says changes have been made to TomorrowNow's operational management to "ensure compliance with appropriate business practices".
Oracle has accused the German company of gaining repeated and unauthorised access to its password-protected customer support Web site. This allowed SAP to copy thousands of Oracle software products and other confidential data onto its own servers and compile an illegal library of copyrighted software code, the lawsuit alleges.
The California firm claims that SAP employees used the log-ins of Oracle customers with expired or soon-to-expire support rights to download thousands of individual software and support materials.
In a statement to the press, Oracle says SAP's comments were an admission to "repeated an illegal downloading of Oracle's intellectual property" and that it wants to determine the magnitude of the illegal downloads.