SAP takes on another large customer for Indirect Access fees

It’s only been a few weeks since beverage producer Diageo was painfully defeated by SAP in the UK. The company lost a legal dispute with SAP about Indirect Access to its SAP data via third party software Salesforce (see also our post „Indirect Access is not just“). It was recently revealed that American beverage producer Anheuser-Busch was also sued by SAP in a similar case. The software vendor is seeking over $600 million in compensation from the company, whose famous brands include Budweiser, Beck’s and Hoegaarden. The $60m Diageo court case pales in comparison to Anheuser-Busch’s $600m lawsuit. Here’s an excerpt from the annual report by Anheuser-Busch:

On 21 February 2017, SAP America, Inc. (“SAP”) commenced an arbitration in New York against Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC pursuant to the Commercial Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association. The statement of claim asserts multiple breaches of a 30 September 2010 Software License Agreement (together with related amendments and ancillary documents, the “SLA”) based on allegations that company employees used SAP systems and data – directly and indirectly – without  appropriate licenses, and that the company underpaid fees due under the SLA.”

Particularly explosive: unlike the Diageo suit, this is not just a case of Indirect Use of SAP data. Rather, Anheuser-Busch seems to have infringed on the copyright law by using SAP software without valid user licenses. Sublicensing is equivalent to license theft and punishable with imprisonment. It is not expected that the case will be publicly resolved, and rather go into private arbitration.

The consequences and financial exposure for Anheuser-Busch can therefore only be assumed. A $600 million penalty will be quite painful in comparison to the annual IT budget of only $140 million and most likely could have been prevented through the implementation of an active license management process.


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