SAP co-CEO says 'I am sorry' to Oracle

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SAP co-CEO says 'I am sorry' to Oracle

Exec takes the stand in software theft case.

A co-chief executive of German software maker SAP apologized to rival Oracle for improperly downloading thousands of software files, but that didn't bring the two companies closer to agreement on financial reparations.

"I am sorry," SAP Co-CEO Bill McDermott said in testimony on Monday as SAP kicked off its defence in a high stakes software theft case brought by Oracle in U.S. federal court.

He apologized after a dramatic exchange with Oracle attorney David Boies, who asked him if SAP had ever apologized for the copyright infringement. McDermott said no. Boies asked him if he would like to do it in the courtroom.

The two companies, which dominate the global market for software that helps businesses run more efficiently, are battling in court to determine the amount of damages for copyright infringement by SAP.

SAP had previously accepted liability for its TomorrowNow subsidiary having wrongfully downloaded thousands of Oracle files. SAP argues it owes tens of millions of dollars in compensation -- not the billions of dollars that Oracle seeks.

Boies also repeatedly asked McDermott whether he has ever disciplined anybody at SAP for what happened at TomorrowNow. McDermott said that his attention has been focused on resolving the case with Oracle. "It's a matter of priorities," McDermott said.

McDermott -- who was appointed SAP's co-CEO earlier this year and was first named to the company's executive board in 2008 -- said he was not involved in the decision to buy TomorrowNow in 2005.

McDermott was previously CEO of SAP Americas and head of the company's global sales operations.

The case in U.S. district court, Northern District of California is Oracle USA Inc, et al. v. SAP AG, et al, 07-1658.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Writing by Jim Finkle; Editing by Richard Chang and Steve Orlofsky)

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