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6/18/2013
07:20 AM
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Oracle Wins Case Against Third-Party Support Provider

Judge finds in Oracle's favor against ServiceKey and its CEO, Angela Vines, in case involving Solaris operating system support.

Oracle announced on Monday that it effectively won one in court, settling a case after a U.S. district judge for the Northern District of Northern California issued an injunction against Norcross, Ga.-based ServiceKey and its CEO, Angela Vines.

The injunction prohibits ServiceKey and Vines from providing many services it offered as a third-party software support provider. Oracle filed a lawsuit against ServiceKey and Vines on February 12, 2012, claiming copyright infringement, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, violation of the Lanham Act, breach of contract, inducing breach of contract, and intentional interference with its service business.

At stake in the case, as in several other recent and pending cases Oracle has filed against third-party support providers, is lucrative support revenue the company receives for ongoing software maintenance. ServiceKey had licensed a small number of Oracle Sun servers and it admitted in court that it had used its access codes to illegally download, copy and distribute Oracle's copyrighted Solaris operating system, including Solaris software updates and patches.

ServiceKey also admitted to falsely advertising its ability to provide the copyrighted Oracle Solaris patches to customers and illegally trafficking in passwords to Oracle's customer support website.

[ Want more on third-party support options? Read Rimini Street Expands Support To Oracle Database. ]

In her injunction, District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong ordered that ServiceKey and Vines may not "give, receive, sell or otherwise provide to anyone any Oracle/Sun software and/or support materials, including any updates, bug fixes, patches, media kits or other proprietary software support materials, and including any patches, bug fixes or updates to the Solaris Operating System." The injunction also prohibits ServiceKey and Vines from falsely advertising that they can provide Oracle-branded support, including "Oracle Premier Support for Systems."

No monetary damages were stipulated as part of the judgment against ServiceKey and Vines. That's a contrast to the $272 million judgment in Oracle's favor in a similar case against SAP and its now-defunct TomorrowNow subsidiary. That case, which has yet to be resolved, also hinged on copyright infringement, and SAP admitted liability for illegal downloads carried out by TomorrowNow.

Oracle has yet another lawsuit pending against third-part support provider Rimini Street, charging the company with "massive theft." Rimini countersued Oracle, maintaining its innocence and insisting it operates within the legal parameters of customer software license agreements.

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zman58
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zman58,
User Rank: Strategist
6/18/2013 | 9:11:46 PM
re: Oracle Wins Case Against Third-Party Support Provider
Another good reason to read the restricted proprietary EULA and abide fully by what it says. Distributing materials that you have no right to distribute is against the license and the law. These are typical limitations of restricted proprietary software; You can get it (and updates for it) from only one single source and must abide by the numerous restrictions presented with it. Get a lawyer if you don't understand this.

Of course you can consider going with open source, which typically does grant you and other third parties unlimited use, modification, and full distribution rights by design. e.g the business friendly GPL.
Verdumont Monte
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Verdumont Monte,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/18/2013 | 9:20:58 PM
re: Oracle Wins Case Against Third-Party Support Provider
I think this what MS used to do previously.. As a part of their "Trustworthy Computing" initiative, all patch management vendors were forced to abide by Microsoft's rule book. I don't see lot of those in the news lately.. I guess MS had been entering some sort of agreement with these third party vendors (eg: Altiris). Why don't Oracle do the same ? Why do they insist on providing support for their products when a thrid party provider can do this at a lower cost?

Unrelated note: 2 years back, we had to do a POC and I wanted to use Oracle's Express edition as a back-end for that. Our company's lawyers read the whole TOS and found buried within the agreement, clauses stating that the "Express Edition" is not really free and Oracle has rights to demand to see the data in the database etc., I went with MySQL instead. Just an example of how aggressive Oracle's legal team is. Bottom line - They are ready to sue anyone, anywhere. Being their customer doesn't mean a thing..
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