In an unusual move, Siebel Systems on Monday released a detailed account of a US lawsuit that it says has been filed against it by rival SAP.
Normally it is the plaintiff - SAP in this case - that announces its actions in this type of case, and the defendant initially issues a statement usually saying the suit was without merit.
Siebel did issue such a statement on Monday but only at the end of a detailed account of SAP's accusations. The company would not say why it had revealed the existence of the suit, which has been filed in Pennsylvania state court.
SAP offices in the US did not return a call on Monday to clarify its actions.
The main crux of the suit, according to Siebel, is that SAP alleges Siebel Systems has engaged in "predatory hiring practices directed at SAP...and unfair competition, which practices are designed to injure SAP's business and damage SAP's ability to compete with Siebel...".
The suit states that over approximately the last year, Siebel has hired 27 SAP employees, including key managers or executives. Former chief executive of SAP, Paul Wahl, and former president Jeremy Coote both now hold senior posts at Siebel.
Siebel goes on to say that the suit accuses it of a laundry list of offences, from pirating its employees away, to disrupting the morale of SAP's staff.
Siebel says it has also been accused of misappropriating SAP's trade secrets.
Such lawsuits are not uncommon in the software industry and competition at the enterprise level is notoriously cut-throat. Informix filed a similar suit against Oracle some years ago and Borland did so against Microsoft.
Siebel is the market leader in customer relationship management software and that market is being eyed by the likes of SAP and Oracle, which hope to sell such applications to their existing clients.
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