Oracle suing to 'free' users from patent claims

The software giant is stepping into a patent-infringement action brought against 20 Oracle partners

Oracle has filed suit against Texas company Advanced Dynamic Interfaces, seeking to have an intellectual-property action it filed against 20 users of Oracle software tossed out of court.

The companies are all users of Oracle's Application Express (APEX) toolkit for rapid application development on top of Oracle's database.

Advanced Dynamic Interfaces filed a lawsuit against the companies in July, saying their use of APEX violates two patents held by ADI, according to Oracle's suit, which was filed this week in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

"Oracle brings this action to free its APEX customers and its APEX software from these unwarranted allegations of infringement," it states.

ADI's initial lawsuit "did not include Oracle as a defendant even though Oracle owns the APEX software and designed, developed, and sells APEX software," it adds. Some of the APEX customers requested that Oracle indemnify them against ADI's action, according to Oracle's complaint.

APEX doesn't infringe on the patents in the suit and, moreover, they are invalid, according to Oracle.

The vendor is asking for a declaratory judgment exonerating itself and the customers targeted by ADI's suit, as well as a declaration that the patents are not valid.

ADI is registered as a limited liability corporation headquartered in Round Rock, Texas. Its listed manager is Brent Farney, who records show is associated with a number of other LLCs headquartered at the same address.

In recent years, there has been an uptick in patent lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, which is seen as friendly to plaintiffs in such cases.

Oracle believes that ADI was created for the sole purpose of pursuing the lawsuit, according to its complaint. Such organizations are commonly referred to by the pejorative "patent trolls."

ADI brought suit against the 20 companies in Delaware because they have all done business in the state, according to ADI's complaint.

Earlier this year, a user posting on an official Oracle forum said they had received a letter from ADI claiming infringement.

"In our case, we did not develop or sell any software or provide any services on Oracle APEX," the poster wrote. "We only advertised we offer consulting services for APEX like other Oracle products. At this point, I don't know what to do."

"These guys are looking for small companies that are scared and would be willing to 'settle' because they don't know any better," one poster replied. "Don't rise to the bait!"

Oracle has famously been on the other side of a patent-infringement case lately with its lawsuit against Google over alleged Java IP violations in the Android mobile OS. While Google was mostly exonerated in the case, Oracle plans to appeal.

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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