July 28, 2003 5:23 PM PDT

Oracle: We'll see you in court eventually

Oracle has asked the Delaware Chancery Court to give it until Sept. 15 to decide on a hearing date for its lawsuit against PeopleSoft.

Oracle needs approval from federal antitrust regulators, and removal of PeopleSoft's anti-takeover measures, to acquire PeopleSoft in a hostile takeover bid. The case before the Delaware court will address the latter.

Oracle and PeopleSoft sent letters on Friday to Delaware Chancery Court Judge Leo Strine Jr., addressing when they would like a hearing on Oracle's lawsuit against PeopleSoft over such issues as its "poison pill," or anti-takeover measures.

"Because the (U.S. Department of Justice) review process is ongoing, we believe that it would be premature to attempt to fix a hearing date for the pending claims, including the claim to compel a redemption of the PeopleSoft (poison) pill," said Allen Terrell Jr., an attorney representing Oracle, in the company's letter to the court.

Deborah Lilienthal, an Oracle spokeswoman, said the Sept. 15 date was selected because "we wanted to set it out far enough to update the court on our progress with the DOJ."

Oracle's lawsuit against PeopleSoft remains indefinitely postponed, but PeopleSoft wants to proceed with its own lawsuit against Oracle in the Alameda County Superior Court.

In its letter, PeopleSoft agreed to the Sept. 15 date, but it informed the Delaware court it still wanted to proceed with gathering evidence, or "discovery," against Oracle in the Alameda court lawsuit. PeopleSoft alleges the database maker engaged in "unfair business practices" when it launched its hostile bid for the company.

"PeopleSoft has been and is being materially damaged by Oracle's acts of unfair competition, which are interfering on an ongoing basis with PeopleSoft's customer relationships and its ability to attract new customers," said Peter Walsh Jr., an attorney representing PeopleSoft, in his letter to the court.

Walsh's letter, which for the first time hinted at the depth of the damages it is seeking against Oracle, went on to say: "PeopleSoft's California action seeks injunctive relief to prevent further damage to the business, as well as damages in the hundreds of millions of dollars."

Often, plaintiffs will cite "damages to be determined at time of trial" in their initial complaint and then later outline a specific amount as the trial nears, legal experts said.

PeopleSoft declined to discuss its letter to the court.

 

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