• United States

Oracle judge denies requests to block expert testimony

Jun 12, 20042 mins
Mergers and AcquisitionsOracleWi-Fi

The judge overseeing the U.S. government’s case to block Oracle’s proposed takeover of PeopleSoft on Friday denied requests from both parties to exclude testimony from each other’s witnesses in the case.

The Department of Justice had asked the court for testimony from one Oracle witness to be excluded, while Oracle had requested testimony from three of the Justice Department’s witnesses to be blocked. Judge Vaughn Walker denied all requests, ruling for each witness that their complete testimony is allowed.

The parties in the case held a conference call to discuss the witness issues because the court was closed Friday for a federal holiday in remembrance of former President Ronald Reagan, who died last weekend.

The Justice Department sought to exclude testimony from Dale Kutnick, the co-founder of research company Meta Group. A Justice Department attorney argued that Kutnick’s knowledge of the industry is based on second-hand information and that he did not have the relevant expertise to testify on economic aspects of the merger.

Oracle attorney Dan Wall responded that with 27 years of experience at Gartner and later Meta Group, Kutnick is “a bonafide industry expert.”

Judge Walker sided with Oracle, agreeing that Kutnick’s consulting expertise is “broad and extensive” and therefore all of Kutnick’s testimony will be allowed.

Oracle for its part sought to block testimony from three experts on the Justice Department’s witness list; Kenneth Elzinga of the University of Virginia, Preston McAfee of the California Institute of Technology and Marco Iansiti of the Harvard Business School.

Wall questioned the expertise of Elzinga and Iansiti and argued that McAfee’s theory to weigh the effect of mergers is flawed. Under McAfee’s theory, prices will always rise after a merger, Wall said.

Judge Walker disagreed, saying he regards Elzinga as an antitrust expert, that Iansiti’s experience with analyzing business needs is relevant and that McAfee’s testimony should also be heard.

The telephone conference ended the first week of trial in the case that is expected to last four weeks. The Justice Department says an Oracle-PeopleSoft merger would stifle competition in the market for high-end human resources and financial management applications, resulting in higher prices. Oracle says there are numerous other competitors, and that other vendors such as Microsoft could enter the market at any time.

The Justice Department is scheduled to continue presenting its case Monday.