SAP, the German software company, is facing an antitrust complaint alleging that it illegally excluded a rival from selling pricing configuration software to some of the world’s biggest corporations.
The complaint was filed with competition officials at the European Commission on Tuesday afternoon by Versata, a business software specialist based in Texas.
It is believed to be one of the first “dominance” complaints in the IT sector against a European company – although a number of big US players, such as Microsoft and Intel, have been on the receiving end of these types of charges.
The complaint follows earlier patent-based litigation between the two companies in the US in which a jury in Texas found that the German company had infringed two Versata patents related to pricing software and awarded the privately owned US company $139m in damages.
Advisers to Versata said on Tuesday that information that came to light in that trial encouraged the company to bring the antitrust complaint. In this, Versata alleges that SAP refused to share interoperability information that would enable its pricing software to run along with SAP’s “enterprise resource planning” software; that SAP then cloned Versata pricing software; and that the German company then bundled this cloned product with its dominant ERP product.
The alleged conduct goes back to the late-1990s and follows a period when Versata says it worked successfully with the larger German company.
Versata, which was previously known as Trilogy, alleges that SAP changed interfaces, effectively breaking communications with Versata’s software and then told potential customers that Versata software was not satisfactory.
“First, SAP created problems for Versata’s superior product to work with SAP’s dominant enterprise software and then SAP told customers that Versata’s product would not work properly,” alleged Thomas Vinje, partner at Clifford Chance, advising Versata.
The US company wants Brussels to require SAP to provide interoperability information and “unbundle” its own pricing configuration software from its ERP software, and to impose a suitable fine.
SAP declined to comment.
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