Resistence is futile: HPE must face Oracle over Solaris IP

Terix partnership pulls PC maker into Larry's crosshairs

Borg and Picard

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and Oracle are heading back to court – this time over an alleged violation of IP rights on Solaris.

A US judge has thrown out a motion by HPE to have Oracle's Solaris violation claim against it dismissed.

Oracle had accused HPE, case 3:16-cv-01393-JST, of improperly partnering with Terix Computer to sell third-party support for the database giant's Solaris operating system.

The firm, however, is coming after HPE on the basis of its partnership with Terix – the suit against HPE was filed in March 2016 but amended.

Oracle has already successfully sued Terix and co-defendant Maintech in 2013 for misappropriating its IP – patches for Solaris.

Terix was ordered to pay Oracle $58m in 2015.

It's textbook Oracle: Larry Ellison's firm has successfully sued a handful of firms offering support for its software on the grounds of patent violations. These firms were then rapped for downloading and applying patches for Solaris, or modifying the proprietary code as part of support.

According to Oracle's original HPE filing, Meg Whitman's lot had:

[In] its effort to generate additional support service revenues, HP falsely represented to customers that HP and Terix could lawfully provide Solaris Updates and other support services at a lower cost than Oracle, and then worked with Terix to improperly access and provide Oracle's proprietary Solaris Updates to customers.

In an updated filing against HPE, Oracle claimed the PC maker had "vicariously infringed" Oracle's rights because it had "both the right and ability to supervise and control Terix's infringing activity, knew about Terix's infringing conduct and declined to exercise its right to stop or limit Terix's infringing conduct".

Now, district judge Jon Tiger, of the Northern District of California, hearing the case, has written:

Oracle has plausibly stated a claim for vicarious copyright infringement. Oracle contends that its amended complaint illustrates "HP had the practical ability to supervise Terix's infringement by virtue of its day-to-day involvement in the joint HP-Terix customer accounts."

HPE and Oracle last faced off over the former's Itanium server.

Oracle in 2013 was found by a court in San Jose, California, to have been in breach of contract for no longer porting its software to HPE's Itanium range of servers. ®

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