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Oracle accused of breaking US competition law over Solaris support

Lawsuit counterattack attempts to park Sherman tank on Larry's lawn

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Oracle has been accused of unfair competition and of breaking US anti-trust laws over its Solaris support business.

The claims are made in a counter-lawsuit lodged by Solaris fix-it company Terix, which had previously been dragged into court by Oracle for allegedly stealing the database giant's copyrighted code.

The Terix suit claims Oracle violated California's unfair competition law and that it attempted to operate an illegal monopoly in violation of Section 2 of the US Sherman Act.

It was the Sherman Act that the US Department of Justice accused Microsoft of violating over bundling of Windows and IE during that company's antitrust case during 1990s and 2000s.

Terix's case has been lodged in the Northern District of California, San Jose Davison.

The Terix claim states:

Oracle's efforts include (among other things) the use of Oracle's natural monopoly over Solaris patches (including error corrections, security fixes, and other updates) and Oracle's natural monopoly over firmware for Sun/Oracle hardware to force customers to purchase software and hardware support from Oracle, even in the many instances when those customers could and would otherwise obtain superior software and hardware support from third-part service providers such as TERiX at a significantly lower cost.

"Senior Oracle personnel have not only admitted but in fact touted Oracle's intent. Indeed, at a press briefing on the day Oracle acquired Sun, Oracle's executive vice president of global customer services announced: "We believe we should be the ones to support our customer... if you're a third-party support provider offering multivendor support, we're coming.... we're coming."

According to Terix, Oracle has succeeded in undermining and weakening third party providers of software and hardware support, including Terix, by forcing customers to sign with Oracle.

Oracle unleashed its case against Terix and fellow support biz Maintech in July last year saying they'd stolen its copyrighted code - Solaris patches, updates and bug fixes - through their work with customers. Larry Ellison's company also accused the firms of mis-representing themselves to customers by claiming they are allowed to support Solaris.

Oracle wants unspecified damages over copyright infringement, false advertising, breach of contract, intentional interference with prospective economic relations, and unfair competition.

The database giant saw part of its case thrown out by the judge in January, as the court ruled Terix and Maintech had not duped users by saying they were allowed to fix and update Solaris. ®

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