9 January 2018Copyright

Oracle’s copyright victory against Rimini upheld

Oracle Corporation’s claim that enterprise software company Rimini Street violated 96 of its copyrights has been upheld.

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the judgment of the trial court on Monday, January 8.

Global technology company Oracle was awarded $50 million in damages and $46.2 million ( increased to $74 million) in legal costs by the US District Court for the District of Nevada in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Oracle accused Rimini of copyright infringement as well as violating Oracle’s terms of service, both of which the trial court accepted.

Rimini is a provider of third-party support for Oracle’s enterprise software. To compete with Oracle’s direct maintenance services Rimini elected to provide software updates to clients by downloading and offering Oracle database support materials to consumers without getting a licence from Oracle.

In direct contravention of Oracle’s website terms, Rimini obtained the software online and infringed copyright “by copying under the licence of one customer for work performed for other existing customers or for unknown or future customers”, according to Judge Fogel of the appeals court.

Rimini argued that the terms of service allowed third-parties to copy and adjust elements of Oracle’s software to fit the needs of customers. Oracle claimed that the third-party altering of its proprietary software systems for resale, without a licence, violates copyright law.

Although Oracle’s central claim that Rimini illegally obtained, duplicated, and altered its software for financial gain was upheld, the Ninth Circuit reversed the findings that Rimini’s downloading of Oracle support materials violated the California Comprehensive Data Access and Fraud Act (CDAFA), the Nevada Computer Crimes Law (NCCL), and California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL).

Fogel said: “Taking data from a website, using a method prohibited by the applicable terms of use, when the taking itself generally is permitted, does not violate the CDAFA or the NCCL”. As Rimini used Oracle’s automated system to obtain the software, the appeals court held that state laws did not apply as a result.

The reversal of the decision that Rimini violated the UCL comes amid the continuing legal action by Rimini against Oracle for anti-competitive practices.

The lower court had issued two permanent injunctions based on the copyright and CDAFA violations, but these were set aside during the appeal.

Now, following the reversal of the competition finding, the award of damages and legal costs has been reduced accordingly. Both permanent injunctions were set aside because the lower court assessed the case by referencing the copyright and CDAFA claims.

Rimini said it expects to eventually receive a refund of up to nearly $50 million of the amount previously paid to Oracle.

Deborah Hellinger, vice president of corporate communications at Oracle, said: “We are pleased that the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment on Rimini Street’s infringement of all 93 of Oracle’s copyrights in this case.

“We look forward to the trial court issuing a permanent injunction against Rimini for its egregious and illegal conduct.”

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More on this story

22 September 2016   A US court has granted Oracle $46.2 million in attorneys’ fees and costs against rival software company Rimini Street.
12 May 2014   The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled that Google infringed copyright covering database maker Oracle’s Java programme.