Hands up who isn't fighting Oracle in court? HPE, for now, as Solaris support sueball tossed

Judge dismisses Big Red's 2016 copyright claim

Man holding laptop computer and pointing finger up

Oracle's copyright battle with HPE over operating system software has been kicked out of court.

The suit began in 2016, when Big Red accused HPE of improperly partnering with maintenance biz Terix Computer to sell third-party support for the Solaris operating system. Oracle said only authorised partners can support the OS.

The spat rumbled on through an extensive discovery process over much of last year – but this week it came to an end as Judge Jon Tigar granted HPE's motion for a summary judgment, tossing the case out.

The heated litigation, held in the Northern District of California, saw Oracle admonished for using "extreme, unnecessary, overheated language".

Meanwhile, HPE's attempt to sanction Oracle's co-CEO Mark Hurd for what it said was "widespread, selective, and inexplicable document destruction" of information that would have been relevant to the case was branded "overkill" in one of its dispute letters, which was the 24th in the case.

In a bid to have the lawsuit thrown out, HPE last year filed a motion for a summary judgment, which said: "Oracle has not adduced evidence sufficient to create a material dispute of fact on essential elements of its claims."

The judge yesterday filed an order, under seal, granting the defendant's motion for summary judgment, while denying Oracle's cross-motion.

HPE had previously tried to have the case dismissed, but this was knocked back in January 2017, when the same judge said that Oracle had "plausibly stated a claim for vicarious copyright infringement".

Big Red successfully sued Terix and co-defendant Maintech in 2013 for misappropriating its intellectual property – patches for Solaris – and in 2015 Terix was ordered to pay up $58m.

Oracle could still seek to appeal the latest decision, and The Register has asked the firm whether it plans to do so.

Updated - 8 February 2019

On 6 February, the court published an unsealed, but redacted, written order in the case setting out the decision to toss it. This stated that some of the claims Oracle made were time-barred, as there was evidence that Big Red had known about them as early as 2010. Other claims were thrown out on the grounds that Oracle failed to submit sufficient evidence, within the relevant timeframe, to back up its case.®

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