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Down and out? Rimini's Oracle slap spells trouble – for Oracle

'Not a war on independents,' but independents should beware

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Comment The odds of paying Oracle top dollar to keep updating your database or business software shortened this week, despite Oracle’s victory over Rimini Street.

Larry Ellison’s giant secured $50m in damages from Rimini in a case that has rattled on for five years.

$14m of that will be paid by Rimini’s charismatic chief executive, Seth Ravin, who was named in the suit by Oracle and who exerts great control over Rimini.

Oracle had blasted Rimini Street for “massive theft” of its IP through the act of downloading and modifying its JD Edwards, Siebel, PeopleSoft and Oracle software in the course of supporting these products owned by Oracle customers.

A US trial judge agreed this week that Rimini had infringed Oracle’s IP and Oracle was bullish. But after five years and God knows how much in legal fees, the result is pyrrhic: if Oracle wanted to squash Rimini Street out of existence, it failed – at least, for now.

Neither will the ruling tame the growth of those supporting Oracle’s software as Oracle may wish. The judge hearing the Oracle-Rimini case found Rimini guilty of 93 counts of infringement. But, that was on just JD Edwards and Siebel products.

Along the way, Oracle’s claims were pared back to the point that, in the court ruling, only in two of the four violations alleged by Oracle was Rimini found to be in the wrong.

Also, that $50m damages figure is almost 75 per cent less than what Oracle had originally sought for “fair-market” copyright damage. Oracle dropped its $210m claim in the summer, ahead of the September start-of-trial date, to streamline the case.

Translated, Oracle jettisoned the fiscal claim knowing that justifying it would have become a point of contention and distracted from the main objective. Not only is the result peanuts compared to the earlier, similar, TomorrowNow suit, but the latest case has failed to deliver a similar result.

In 2014 a court awarded Oracle $1.3bn from SAP, the former owners of TomorrowNow. Oracle had claimed “hundreds of thousands” of illegal downloads of its software were made by TomorrowNow.

Back at Rimini, the company was found to have acted illegally by having made copies of Oracle's code. Rimini reckons it’s now changed the practices that landed it in trouble.

“The court found that Rimini Street is liable for copyright infringement of certain Oracle products in relation to processes no longer in use at Rimini Street since 2014,” Rimini Street said in a statement. Further, the infringement was found to be legally "innocent" and not "wilful", with Oracle not having lost profits.

Normally, in such cases, the next phase is appeal or settlement is paid and we all move on.

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