Oracle & SAP: Please focus on innovation, please, please!

Boxing DogI’m glad to see the SAP, TomorrowNow, Oracle debacle drawing to a close as reported in Forbes.  While we all want to be fairly paid for our innovations and no one wants to be ripped off, we don’t need individuals, leaders, and whole companies spending all their efforts and focus on  suing, counter-suing and legal maneuvers.   I’ve always believed that as soon as you start involving lawyers, you are already losing or at least skimming off your capability.  It is pretty clear to me that TomorrowNow was wrong and SAP owned them, so I’m not arguing the verdict at all, but the huge waste of energy, focus, and innovation.

The recent announcement on the settlement seems reasonable in that it compensates Oracle for damages plus penalties. Forbes reported ‘A three-judge federal bench upheld the judge’s ruling and awarded approximately $357 million in damages, with about $121 million in lost profits for Oracle and $236 million in infringement profit for SAP, stating the previous award was “based on undue speculation.”‘  This is long way from the $1.3B initial reward which was headline worthy.  It also seems large enough to discourage bad behavior and compensates Oracle, or at least their lawyers, fairly.

Putting aside the huge dollars here, can you imagine how much of the Oracle and SAP teams’ energies went into this lawsuit?  What if both companies just focused on building better databases? tools? products? ERP systems? clouds?  It seems when companies get sucked into these types of legal battles, the only winners possible are weaker competitors who can focus on innovation and clients while the big guys “duke it out” in the courts. 

Can SAP and Oracle just go back to creating great products because while you were filing legal briefs, you competition didn’t rest.  Ultimately, the real loser was the consumer who is paying for all the legal overhead and distractions when they buy your products.  So please, please, please, go back to building better mouse traps.  I got lots of mice.