Oracle Moves a Step Closer to Winning IP Copyright Case
Oracle received good news Aug. 14 on one of its legal fronts.
The U.S. District Court in Las Vegas granted the Redwood City, Calif.-based company's motion for partial summary judgment in its case against third-party enterprise IT support provider Rimini Street and its CEO, Seth Ravin, in its charges of theft of Oracle's intellectual property.
Federal Judge Larry Hicks of the same court ruled last Feb. 13 that Rimini Street infringed copyrights on Oracle’s PeopleSoft enterprise resource planning (ERP) software while it was providing third-party support to Oracle customers for less cost than what Oracle's service division charges.
The Aug. 14 court judgment backed Hicks' ruling and may well be the last step prior to a final judgment or and out-of-court settlement.
Judge Hicks had specified that when Rimini Street installed unlicensed copies of PeopleSoft on its systems so it could create software updates for customers, it violated Oracle copyrights.
In issuing the judgment Aug. 14, the court dismissed Rimini's counterclaims for defamation and unfair competition. In those counterclaims, Rimini had challenged Oracle's public statements that Rimini had engaged in "massive theft" of Oracle's intellectual property.
In addition to the PeopleSoft copyright infractions, the federal court also found that Rimini Street infringed Oracle database copyrights. The court determined that Rimini Street had downloaded 25 copies of Oracle's database software and possessed more than 200 copies--all unlicensed.
The court ordered both parties to submit a pretrial order within 60 days.
Las Vegas-based Rimini Street is an independent provider of enterprise software support services for Siebel, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Database, Hyperion, Oracle Retail, SAP and BusinessObjects licensees. The company claims to be one of few vendors that can provide high-end software support for far less cost than what customers pay vendors in annual maintenance fees.
Here's where a legal rewind comes in: Rimini Street was founded by the same man who was a principal in a similar copyright infringement case involving Oracle and PeopleSoft several years ago. Rimini Street CEO Seth Ravin co-founded TomorrowNow, a now-defunct SAP division that also provided lower-cost support to Oracle customers.
SAP, which bought Texas-based TomorrowNow in 2005, admitted liability for actions by TomorrowNow employees following a five-year court battle. Oracle won a $426 million judgment in August 2012.
Ravin and Rimini Street have resurrected TomorrowNow's "corrupt" business model under another name, Oracle alleged in court documents.
In its defense, Rimini Street testified that Oracle knew not only that it was providing support to Oracle customers but also that Rimini Street was creating the copies for its own systems. Rimini argued that because Oracle continued to ship the back-ups, this implied consent, and therefore there could be no copyright infringement. But Hicks decided that argument was not supported by the evidence.
"Rimini admits that the purpose behind the obfuscated shipping requests was to allow Rimini to create development environments to service Rimini's customers without Oracle’s knowledge," Hicks wrote.
Oracle first brought the case against Rimini in 2010, alleging that the company had undertaken massive theft of the PeopleSoft software using an illegal business model.