SAP: Outreach to Oracle about Java, not help with Sun deal

SAP said Wednesday it contacted Oracle and its CEO, Larry Ellison, in recent months over concerns about the future of the Java programming language and competition in the database market, not to offer help facilitating Oracle’s purchase of Sun Microsystems, which is being held up by a European antitrust review.

The statement follows a recent Wall Street Journal editorial that speculated about the latter possibility. The editorial was based on a letter sent to Ellison on Sept. 15 by SAP CEO Léo Apotheker, which consisted of the following statement, according to the Journal:

“As you know, we have significant concerns about Oracle’s proposed takeover of Sun. We renew our invitation to meet to attempt to resolve our concerns and other open issues between our companies. Please let us know if and when you would like to meet.”

The Journal noted that “other issues” between the two companies include an ongoing intellectual property lawsuit Oracle filed against SAP in connection with TomorrowNow, a now-shuttered subsidiary of SAP that provided third-party support for Oracle applications.

SAP “strongly rejects” the editorial’s “misleading speculation,” Wednesday’s statement said, reiterating remarks by an SAP spokesman earlier this week.

Instead, SAP has “concerns about customer choice in the database market and the future open licensing of Java,” and first contacted Oracle and Sun about the matter “as far back as the end of July 2009.”

“Since there was no response, our CEO Léo Apotheker took the initiative and wrote to both Oracle and Sun CEOs in the middle of September to voice our concerns again, offer a dialogue, and attempt to clarify the issues. We have not heard back from Oracle, but instead found Léo Apotheker’s letter leaked to the press last week,” the statement adds. “This is both telling and disappointing as it demonstrates that there is no real interest by Oracle to listen and explain how it wants to ensure the required level of customer choice in the database market as well as open access to Java.”

In a blog post on Monday, SAP CTO Vishal Sikka also called for more openness in Java.

Meanwhile, this week the European Commission issued a formal statement of objections to Oracle and Sun regarding the merger. The body is particularly concerned over the fate of Sun’s open-source MySQL database if it comes under Oracle’s ownership.

An Oracle spokeswoman declined comment.

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