Rimini Street's practices remain 'suspect,' Oracle alleges

Oracle isn't buying that the third-party support provider has made its services legally compliant

Oracle isn't satisfied that Rimini Street's new procedures for third-party support for Oracle software are legal, a stance that could further extend the companies' long-running intellectual property lawsuit.

Rimini Street says that it has changed its processes after a February ruling by Judge Larry Hicks, which found it had violated copyrights on Oracle's PeopleSoft software. The work to change its procedures was completed as of July 31, according to a filing Rimini Street made last week in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

The stakes are high for Oracle and its rivals. While Oracle is shifting its business model to SaaS (software as a service), which is sold via subscription, it still derives a large chunk of its profits from traditional maintenance payments for on-premises software.

Oracle is asserting that Rimini Street's new processes are "suspect" and raise "significant suspicions that Rimini's new support model involves all the same infringing acts as the 'old' support model that the Court has already ruled was copyright infringement," according to last week's filing.

Oracle also claimed that if given six to 12 months for additional discovery, it could show that Rimini's new support processes are simply "old wine in a new bottle," the filing adds.

During a case management conference earlier this month, Hicks said no additional information about Rimini's new procedures was needed, according to the filing. However, during the conference an Oracle attorney said the company may sue Rimini Street again for copyright infringement that occurred after the February order, it adds.

Now Rimini Street wants Hicks to issue a declaratory judgment stating it has not infringed Oracle's software copyrights since July 31.

Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined to comment.

Rimini Street offers support for SAP and Oracle software at a 50 percent discount over what customers now pay the vendors for annual maintenance. While going to a third party like Rimini Street means customers give up the continual new versions provided by vendor support, these companies tend to have stable systems and little desire to undergo upgrades.

Along with technical support, Rimini Street's service also provides the tax and regulatory updates needed to keep systems in compliance

Rimini CEO Seth Ravin co-founded TomorrowNow, a former SAP subsidiary that offered similar services to Oracle customers. Oracle won a sizable copyright-infringement judgment against SAP after it admitted liability for TomorrowNow's business practices, but that matter isn't yet concluded.

When it sued Rimini Street in 2010, Oracle alleged Ravin had duplicated TomorrowNow's "corrupt business model."

Industry watchers believe the final outcome of Oracle vs. Rimini Street will lay some clear ground rules for performing third-party support in a legal manner. This could spark a wave of growth in the market for it, which is currently quite small.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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