The recent legal difficulties between software vendor Oracle and support provider Rimini Street (Rimini) show how copyright and intellectual property (IP) law could have an effect that is felt across the ocean.
The US courts can and have affected laws across Australia and New Zealand and so those who work in the channel should make the most of opportunities that may come about as a result of changes effected by the legal repercussions from cases such as these.
Despite the demise of the TPPA, there are still agreements between the three countries that require a level of compliance, particularly when it comes to the law surrounding copyright.
Once this case has resolved it could change how software support is provided in the US and, by extension, across A/NZ.
Oracle v Rimini
Oracle, a provider of enterprise cloud-computing who came in at number 11 on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful brands, claims that Rimini, an independent provider of third-party enterprise software support with around 1000 employees, was making illegal copies of their software as a part of their support for clients, which is a breach of Oracle’s copyright.
However, they took the issue a step further stating, “Rimini’s business model was built entirely on its infringement of Oracle’s copyrighted software."
In return, Rimini says, “Oracle is using its software licenses to unlawfully leverage a monopoly in the support services market.”
The first legal complaint was filed in 2010 following Oracles settling of a similar suit in 2007 against SAP-owned TomorrowNow.
The difference was that while SAP admitted liability, Rimini did not.
In 2015 and 2016, the court found that Rimini was at fault and awarded Oracle a total of $124 million in damages, attorney fees and prejudgment interest.
They also granted a permanent injunction against any further “reproducing, preparing derivative works from, or distributing” of Oracle software by Rimini.
On January 8, the awarded amount was reduced by $50 million when the appeals court ruled that the copyright infringement was unintended or ‘innocent’.
The fallout for Rimini
The final question of the conflict is how the injunction will affect Rimini’s business.
Rimini says the ruling will have no effect on its dealings and the practices the court ruled against “are no longer in use since at least July 2014.”
Oracle commented, “We look forward to the trial court issuing a permanent injunction against Rimini for its egregious and illegal conduct,” indicating an expectation of impact on Rimini’s business.
Once the injunction is put into effect the companies’ differing interpretations of the decision may begin a new wave of tension.
However, this is just one scene in a far wider story about copyright and intellectual property.
With each copyright case, the nature of the relationship between vendors, providers and end-users could change.
While vendors should protect their IP, it would be a loss for the channel and the IT industry if third-party software support providers were to lose their ability to provide competition in that area.
Being aware of cases like the one between Oracle and Rimini Street can keep channel players from being taken by surprise if the effects of these cases ripple out to our region.