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Comcast dragged into muck in Oracle's Solaris fix-it lawsuit

Oracle wants to see its Solaris licenses, but Comcast wants nothing to do with it

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Comcast is caught in the crossfire in Oracle's ongoing lawsuit against Solaris fix-it companies Maintech and Terix, but the broadband giant is trying to stay out of it – illegally, Oracle claims.

A filing [PDF] with the US District Court of the Southern District of New York last week reveals that Oracle subpoenaed Comcast last July for documents to use as evidence in the trial, but so far Comcast has failed to respond.

The filing shows that Comcast – while not itself being named as a defendant in the suit – has been a customer of Maintech and Terix, two companies that the database giant has accused of distributing copyrighted Solaris patches without authorization.

Maintech, Terix, and Comcast have each argued that the licenses customers receive when they purchase Solaris servers grant them the right to "perpetual" support of both the hardware and the OS – including the right to seek support from third parties once their original support contracts with Oracle run out.

Oracle says that's not true, and to prove it, it has demanded Comcast show it the licenses in question. Yet despite what Oracle describes as "several months of negotiating" during which the database giant says it "bent over backwards to be accommodating," Comcast has yet to produce the documents.

Comcast has argued that the request is overly burdensome – and indeed, Oracle's filing says it wants to see the original licenses covering "the thousands of Oracle/Sun servers that [Comcast] acquired over time," although it says it was willing to narrow the request to only those servers that were supported by Terix or Maintech.

The broadband firm also objects to being forced to produce "documents that are already in possession of Oracle" – in other words, Oracle (or Sun before it) wrote the licenses, so it should already know what they say. Oracle says that's not the case, however, because there have been many different versions of the Solaris license over the years.

"In short," Oracle's filing states, "Oracle is not in a position to track the Solaris licenses that Comcast has that Defendants contend justify their extensive misuse of Oracle's intellectual property – this information is solely within Comcast's control and it either has these documents available for production or it does not."

With Comcast now having failed to produce the requested documents for almost nine months, Oracle has asked the court for a judicial order forcing it to do so.

Meanwhile, Terix has fired a counter-suit at Oracle, alleging that its attempts to undermine third-party Solaris support providers violate California unfair competition statutes and federal antitrust law. ®

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