Oracle winds up legal machine, lobs US copyright lawsuit at HPE

The database giant says HPE was involved in a scheme that infringed Oracle's copyright

Oracle has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Hewlett Packard Enterprise, claiming that 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 US$58 million.

In its new lawsuit filed Tuesday, Oracle claims that HPE partnered with Terix to sell Solaris support services to joint customers of Oracle and HPE, 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 -- doing business at the time as HP -- partnered with the company "long after it knew that Terix was illegally taking Oracle's software and providing it to HP customers," an Oracle attorney said in a statement.

"Oracle obtained a judgment against Terix, and will continue to pursue companies like HP that misappropriate our software for their own financial gain,” the statement said.

A spokesman for HPE declined to comment, citing a company policy of not commenting on ongoing legal cases.

Oracle wants a jury trial to determine unspecified monetary damages. The 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 that Oracle brought several years ago against another rival, SAP, over the German company's dealings with third-party support provider TomorrowNow.

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

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James Niccolai

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