Teradata files suit against SAP, alleging it stole trade secrets

Venkatesh Ganesh | | Updated on: Jun 21, 2018

Under the lens The lawsuit coincides with the time when Vishal Sikka was the brain behind SAP’s HANA

Move may drag its former CTO Vishal Sikka to the court



Teradata has filed a lawsuit against SAP for copyright infringement, trade secret misappropriation and antitrust violations, which could drag its former CTO Vishal Sikka to court.

Cloud and data analytics company Teradata has alleged that SAP lured it into a joint venture to gain access to its Intellectual Property (IP), steal its trade secrets and use them to quickly develop and introduce a competitor product. Subsequently, SAP HANA was launched in a short span of time, after which the German major terminated its joint venture with Teradata, as per the company filings.

The lawsuit has been filed in the US District Court of Northern District of California. Teradata has alleged that SAP has been indulging in this kind of anti-competitive behaviour for a decade. The lawsuit coincides with the time when Sikka was the brain behind SAP’s HANA.

When contacted, a SAP spokesperson said: “SAP was surprised to learn of the complaint filed by Teradata. Although SAP generally does not comment on pending litigation, SAP may issue a statement, if appropriate, after it has had an opportunity to review the complaint.”

The lawsuit has not named any individual as party to this. But the terms and conditions of Sikka being held accountable for this is unclear but in the process of court proceedings, Sikka may be summoned to court. In the US, once a lawsuit is filed, both parties get to look at each other’s documents, emails, which take several months and eventually names of parties involved come out. This means that theoretically, he could be called to depose. A lot of it is driven by contracts. Generally, an employee is contractually legally bound to depose even if he or she is no longer working with the company, according to Ravi Bhola, Partner, K&S Partners, an IP law firm. An email sent to Sikka went unanswered.

Teradata has additionally alleged that SAP is now attempting to coerce Teradata customers to forcibly use SAP HANA, in exchange for upgrading their ERP systems. Teradata has not minced any words in its lawsuit and has even called out SAP’s product as “inferior” and its efforts as neither pro competitive nor innovative.

The filing also mentions that by doing this, SAP was preventing Teradata access to customer information and given the high cost of switching to alternate ERP systems, customers get locked in. This, Teradata has deemed as anti-competitive. SAP has a dominant position in ERP.

Teradata has sought an injunction, which is a court order by which an entity or an individual is restrained from performing a particular act, against SAP, in addition to monetary damages, which has not been quantified yet.

Published on June 21, 2018
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