The CEO of third-party application support provider Rimini Street is confident that it won't take the route of former competitor TomorrowNow in defending a lawsuit filed by Oracle claiming "massive theft" of proprietary software support documents. Rimini Street has filed a countersuit against Oracle, claiming Oracle is using illegal anti-competitive tactics to stifle its business.
Seth Ravin, Rimini Street's president and CEO,
says his company's countersuit against Oracle claiming among other things
"defamation, disparagement, trade libel and unfair competition" is a sign that
Rimini Street is not going to "allow a larger company to simply intimidate us"
out of a lucrative market for third-party enterprise application maintenance
announced on March
29 that it has filed a suit at U.S. District Court in Nevada with counter
claims that Oracle's own suit filed Jan. 25 was a "misuse" of copyright laws
and part of a five-year campaign of escalating tactics to try to "disrupt and
halt" Rimini Street's third-party application maintenance business.
Oracle's suit against Rimini Street
is virtually a carbon copy of a suit it is pursuing against SAP
concerning a now defunct subsidiary named TomorrowNow that provided third-party
application maintenance and support for Oracle enterprise applications,
including PeopleSoft, Siebel and J.D. Edwards. These software products were
originally developed by companies that Oracle has acquired in the past six
In both cases, Oracle is claiming the "massive theft" of copyrighted Oracle
intellectual property through the illegal downloading of software and support
materials. SAP shut
down the TomorrowNow's operations
after Oracle filed suit. The SAP-Oracle
suit is scheduled to go to trial in
but the trial date has already been pushed back several
times. A pretrial settlement conference is scheduled for June 22. Two other
earlier settlement conferences have been unsuccessful.
Furthermore, SAP in its response to the
Oracle lawsuit admitted that TomorrowNow employees made "inappropriate"
downloads of product support information from Oracle's Website, but denied that
the information provided SAP with any
financial gain or business advantage.
However, Ravin claims that there are major differences between Rimini's
situation and the SAP-TomorrowNow case.
Ravin, who was also a founder of TomorrowNow as well as a former PeopleSoft
executive, said the "reality is we are completely different companies with
different processes and procedures,"
The main difference between the procedures of Rimini
Street and TomorrowNow is that Rimini
says it uses separate data "silos" for each of its clients so that proprietary
information or application data isn't shared between customers. Rimini
also claims that it is only doing work that its clients authorize it to perform
on their behalf. Furthermore, Rimini
says it only "delivers Oracle software and support materials to each client who
is entitled to receive such materials."
TomorrowNow made some of the same claims, But Ravin said that SAP
was in a much more "defensive posture" when Oracle filed suit against it.
TomorrowNow "was a small part of SAP's
business that they really didn't know it well and they really weren't in a good
position to articulate well a defense and they really suffered for that," Ravin
SAP, Ravin claimed, "just didn't
understand the business that much" and "has a whole host" of other market and
competitive issues to deal with, which are much "bigger in terms of their core
However, in Rimini Street's
case "this is our core business. We know this business very well. We have been
in it for years," and that gives the company the resources and the
determination to see the case through the courts to its legal conclusion, Ravin
"We have grown 270 percent last year with unbelievable pressure from Oracle
in the market as well as SAP," Ravin said.
"We are very used to swimming upstream, and I think we have done that very well
because our customers are very pleased with the service they are getting and
the materials we deliver to them." Numerous enterprises, including companies
even larger than Oracle, have switched their support business to Rimini
Street, Ravin said.
As a result, "there should be no surprise that [Oracle is] going to fight
tooth and nail to hold onto this market," Ravin said. Rimini
Street is determined to fight for a larger share
of that market, and Oracle is "not going to be allowed to use anti-competitive
tactics to that are illegal against" his company, he said.
Ravin said the company is working with three law firms in the case,
including Wilson Sonsini, which Ravin said has one of the top practices in the
nation in technology law, and Greenberg Traurig, which is a top-rated firm in
the field of antitrust and intellectual property law.
In its lawsuit, Rimini Street
claims that for the past five years Oracle has engaged in "escalating tactics"
in an attempt to block the company from providing application support services
to its customers. These efforts ranged from "numerous hostile letters" to
"intentionally blocking Rimini Street's
IP addresses" from accessing Oracle servers. Rimini
Street also claimed that Oracle interfered with
the company "performing authorized work on behalf of a large client switching
to Rimini Street support."