Anheuser-Busch InBev, the company behind Stella Artois, Budweiser and Hoegaarden, is facing a $600m (£466m) lawsuit from German tech giant SAP for allegedly accessing its business data systems without the appropriate user licences.
Anheuser has said it will “vigorously” defend itself against the claim, in a move which is likely to trigger alarm bells across SAP’s customer base and force them to closely study their licensing agreements.
The German company works with some of the biggest brands in the world, including Aviva, Beiersdorf, Coca-Cola, Dell, eBay, Kraft Foods, Premier Foods, Lidl, and Kellogg’s, as well as a number of leading football teams.
The case was revealed in the brewer’s recent US Securities & Exchange Commission filing. The filing stated: “The statement of claim asserts multiple breaches of a 30 September 2010 Software License Agreement 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.”
SAP has not yet commented on the claims, but the move follows a licensing ruling in the High Court against British firm Diageo, against which SAP is seeking $54m (£42m) in compensation.
SAP had provided its services to Diageo from 2004 but in 2012 the firm implemented two third-party systems that hooked into the SAP system, enabling staff to pull up customer data from an Oracle database linked with SAP’s software but failed to obtain a licence to do so.
Diageo had argued that SAP was a “gatekeeper” licence, providing access to all the software and data linked to its systems, but the judge rejected the UK company’s argument.
Martin Thompson, head of Campaign for Clear Licensing, told IT Pro: “This is further evidence that SAP is clearly desperate for revenue at any cost, even if it means suing its very largest customers.”
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