Oracle winds up legal machine for HPE copyright suit

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23 March 2016 | 0

Oracle has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Hewlett Packard Enterprise, claiming it was part of an illegal scheme to sell Solaris support services to Oracle customers.

The case involves an area of the tech industry known as third-party maintenance and support, in which customers buy support services from a third party for less than they would normally pay their primary vendor.

Oracle has brought several lawsuits against such providers, and last June it won a judgment against a third-party vendor called Terix that required the smaller firm to pay Oracle $58 million (€52 million).

In its lawsuit, Oracle claims that HPE partnered with Terix to sell Solaris support services to joint Oracle and HPE customers, and that HPE did so despite knowing that Terix’s business was illegal.

Oracle says it learned of the alleged conduct while litigating its case against Terix.

HPE, known then as simply HP, “sold support services to Oracle customers that included software support by Terix despite knowing that Terix’s software support included Solaris Updates that Terix had no lawful right to provide,” Oracle says in its complaint.

A spokesman for HPE said the company does not comment on ongoing legal cases.

Oracle wants a jury trial to determine monetary damages. Its lawsuit, filed in the federal District Court in Northern California, accuses HP of copyright infringement, intentional interference with contracts and unfair competition.

The case is reminiscent of one Oracle brought several years ago against another rival, SAP, over the German company’s dealings with third-party provider TomorrowNow.

In that case, SAP had purchased TomorrowNow and later admitted that the company had illegally downloaded vast amounts of Oracle support materials. After a long legal fight, SAP paid Oracle about $360 million (€322 million).

The link between HPE and Terix is less direct. Oracle describes Terix as a “partner” and a “contractor” to HP. If the case makes it to trial, the jury will have to decide whether HPE was aware that Terix acted illegally, and if so to what extent HPE might be liable.

Oracle contends HPE knew full well what Terix was up to.

It says HP’s goal was to offer multivendor support to customers with mixed HP and Sun Solaris environments. HP enlisted Terix for the software portion, Oracle says, including providing updates for Oracle’s Solaris OS.

Oracle claims HP must have known Terix was acting illegally because HP has the same type of license and support policies for HP-UX.  It says HP provided the services “despite HP employees raising concerns about the legality of Terix’s conduct to HP’s legal department.”




IDG News Service

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