Word on the street: Rimini takes Oracle copyright battle to US Supremes

Complains costs were 17% higher cos of where case was heard

Man surprised by calculator

Rimini Street has urged the US Supreme Court to weigh in on its legal wrangling with Oracle as the costs awarded against it were "at least" 17 per cent higher because the case was heard in a Circuit court.

In the latest development in the years-long copyright battle, software support biz Rimini has filed a petition for appeal (PDF) with the supremes, on the basis that the circuit courts are split over how to award costs in copyright cases.

The battle centres on Rimini Street's decision to host Oracle software on its own servers, and copy some support materials and downloads to provide support services to enterprise customers using Oracle software.

Big Red hit Rimini with a sueball, and the smaller firm was then slapped with fines and costs of about $124m. This included $35m in attorneys’ fees, more than $22m in prejudgment interest, and more than $20m in costs - of which more than $12m was in non-taxable costs.

Earlier this year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals trimmed $50m off Oracle’s take, throwing out damages and some costs issued for violating a pair of laws in California and Nevada - but largely upholding Big Red’s claims of copyright violation.

Rimini Street, though, is desperate to further reduce its bill, and in January it appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over the non-taxable costs included in the judgment, but this was denied.

Its most recent filing Rimini escalated the matter, asking the US Supreme Court to resolve differences between the Ninth Circuit court’s judgment and those of two other courts, on whether non-taxable costs can be awarded to the winning side in copyright cases.

The support firm argued that it had been faced with a judgment that was “at least 17 per cent higher” because the case was brought in the Ninth Circuit. This is because, due to a legal precedent set in 2005, it allows successful plaintiffs to recover all costs incurred in litigation, not just taxable costs.

In contrast, both the Eight and Eleventh Circuits have held that the US Copyright Act’s allowance of “full costs” to a prevailing party is limited to taxable costs under US codes.

“One party should not receive a multi-million-dollar windfall (and the other be forced to foot a large payout) solely based on the district in which suit is commenced,” Rimini stated in its filing.

“National uniformity on the question presented is exceptionally important,” the firm said, adding that this would be an ideal case to resolve the “important and recurring question” that often escapes appellate and Supreme Court review.

Rimini added that the situation is made more acute because the Ninth Circuit hears more intellectual property cases than district courts in any other circuit - and has routinely awarded non-taxable costs in such cases.

“It is not uncommon,” the filing said, “for such awards to reach into the hundreds of thousands, millions, and even tens of millions of dollars.”

Meanwhile, litigants in other circuits don’t face these “exorbitant cost awards”, the support biz complained.

A response is due by 2 July.

We’ve asked Oracle for comment but was told not to hold our breath as a statement will not be forthcoming. ®




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