- Initially, beginning in September 2005, Oracle’s efforts consisted of numerous hostile letters. Over the years, Rimini Street responded to each letter, explained the appropriateness of Rimini Street’s practices and procedures, and repeatedly offered to meet and discuss any questions or concerns Oracle might have about Rimini Street processes and procedures.
- In June 2007, Oracle interfered with authorized work on behalf of Rimini Street clients by changing its website usage terms. Rimini Street wrote Oracle about the anticompetitive tactic against Rimini Street and informed Oracle that the change was likely a breach of Oracle’s client license agreements, which expressly prevent service rights degradation. As such, the changes were not enforceable.
- In December 2008, Oracle escalated its tactics by intentionally blocking Rimini Street’s IP addresses and interfering with Rimini Street’s authorized work on behalf of a large client switching from Oracle to Rimini Street support. After correspondence from both the client and Rimini Street demanding Oracle cease and desist, Oracle stopped the interference.
- Most recently, in January 2010, Oracle once again escalated its anticompetitive tactics, this time through litigation. Oracle filed a baseless lawsuit against Rimini Street, choosing to ignore Rimini Street’s numerous invitations for dialogue, offer to view internal Rimini Street information, and even the opportunity to engage a third party auditor.
Colleagues are awaiting a call with the company to firm up on the details. In the meantime, Enterprise Advocates colleague Frank Scavo has offered his early opinion:
Many of us have been hoping for a vigorous response by Rimini Street and it appears this is what Rimini Street is doing. As I've pointed out in the past, this case is going to bring increased legal scrutiny of Oracle and other major software providers in terms of how they lock in customers to their maintenance and support programs. Oracle runs a risk in filing this lawsuit. If Oracle does not prevail against Rimini Street, the case will strongly establish the legal basis for the third-party support industry.
Last week, Oracle announced an 'all or nothing' hardware support policy as it seeks to tighten the vise around customers' wallets:
The policy, which went into effect March 16, states that "when acquiring technical support, all hardware systems must be supported (e.g., Oracle Premier Support for Systems or Oracle Premier Support for Operating Systems) or unsupported."
It includes all systems running Solaris version 10.9 or later, those running Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM, as well as "all hardware systems for which you have applied services received under a technical support contract for another hardware system (including sharing of updates, patches, fixes, security alerts, work-arounds, configuration/installation assistance or parts)."
Customers who don't purchase support for hardware systems aren't allowed to obtain "maintenance releases, patches, telephone assistance, or any other technical support services."
Customers who are considering Oracle as a one stop shop need review these kinds of terms, factoring in what it might mean for price hikes, term agreements and the like.
UPDATE: I received a message from Karen Tillman, VP Oracle communications where she said:
Oracle is committed to customer choice and vigorous competition, but draws the line with any company, big or small, that steals its intellectual property. The massive theft that Rimini and Mr. Ravin engaged in is not healthy competition. We will prove this in court.