Oracle Sues Rimini Street Over Support Intellectual Property
February 1, 2010 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Oracle, the second-largest application provider in the world and a company that aspires to rise to the top of the IT biz, has sued another company offering third party support for its applications. In 2007, it was the TomorrowNow unit of rival SAP that was slapped with a lawsuit, and three years later, it is Rimini Street, which has filled in the gap since SAP shut down the TomorrowNow unit in July 2008.
Oracle has hired hot-shot law firm Boies, Schiller, and Flexner and filed a lawsuit against Rimini Street and Seth Ravin, the company’s president and chief executive officer, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada in Las Vegas. The case is like a flashback of the TomorrowNow case, where Oracle alleges a “massive theft of Oracle’s software and related support materials through an illegal business model,” and it is probably a bit of a flashback for Ravin, who is a former employee of TomorrowNow.
In the suit, Oracle alleges that Rimini Street has illegally downloaded Oracle’s software and support materials from password-protected tech support sites, and alleges further that the company has created robots to milk the Oracle support sites of the data that helps make Oracle and Rimini Street the support cashish for PeopleSoft, Siebel Systems, and JD Edwards software suites. The milking by robots was, says Oracle, fierce enough to freeze Oracle support sites, and totals at least 100,000 unauthorized files. (This may say more about Oracle’s tech support infrastructure than anything else.) Oracle also says that Rimini Street has illegally copied Oracle’s enterprise application code.
All told, Oracle’s lawyers have filed 13 claims against Rimini Street, and are seeking for a preliminary and permanent injunction against Rimini Street, forcing it to stop accessing and distributing Oracle software and intellectual property, to return the materials taken using customer account numbers, to pay punitive damages (tripled) and statutory damages awarded in a trial, and to give to Oracle any ill-gotten revenues and profits from the third-party support of Oracle software.
In a statement put out last week by Rimini Street talking about how it had double-digit revenue growth in its Siebel and PeopleSoft support business, and triple-digit growth in the JD Edwards business (yeah, triple digit), the company tacked this statement about the case at the bottom:
“Enterprise software customers, like in any truly competitive market, deserve the right to have a choice of support options and vendors,” said Ravin. “I believe Oracle’s actions are an attempt to forestall competition and limit market choices for its software licensees. Rimini Street offers valuable support options at more than a 50 percent savings compared to Oracle. Rimini Street’s services are enjoyed by hundreds of clients around the world, including Global and Fortune 500 organizations, many government agencies, and small businesses trying to grow and hire new employees in these difficult economic times. Rimini Street has been a leader in fighting for customer choice and options, and we will continue to do so.”
We’ll see. This is no longer up to CEOs, but rather judges and juries.