Oracle attempts to withhold evidence, is slapped down by judge

Earlier this month, when Microsoft lost its bid to have new evidence submitted in the anti-trust case against it, the company subpoenaed various Silicon Valley firms--including Netscape, Sun, IBM, Novell, and Oracle--to collect its own evidence. According to Microsoft, all of these companies have submitted the requested documents, except for Oracle, which on Tuesday said it had asked a federal judge to block the subpoena. Oracles says it is only protecting its own "sensitive commercial information."

"We think the documents requested are not pertinent to the question of whether Microsoft is guilty of the issues at hand," said an Oracle spokesperson, adding that Microsoft has a ""belief that it is entitled to use judicial process to delve into its competitors' most sensitive commercial information."

Microsoft argues that Oracle has documents that are "plainly relevant" to its case and that the company formed a powerful, secret alliance with other companies to undermine Microsoft. The requested documents, Microsoft says, will prove this.

Late Tuesday, a federal judge ordered Oracle to turn the information over to Microsoft. In a sweeping order that seems to mirror Microsoft's claims, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson demanded that Oracle turn over any agreements it entered into with Apple Computer, IBM, Novell, Netscape, Sun, Hewlett-Packard, and Compaq Computer that include information about marketing UNIX, Web browsers, Java, the HotJava browser, JavaScript (and its predecessor LiveScript) in an attempt to engage in "collaborative competition against Microsoft."

Ouch.

Oracle has until October 9th to turn over the documents, and the company must make a representative available for deposition between October 9th and 14th.

"We are looking forward to getting the information that the court ordered Oracle to turn over," said Microsoft spokesman Tom Pilla. "We are looking forward to defending ourselves on October 15.

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