Customer Fights Subpoena in Oracle-Rimini Suit

Oracle has subpoenaed scores of Rimini Street customers in connection with its intellectual property suit against the third-party software maintenance provider, but at least one has no interest in complying with its demands.

The subpoena issued to Petroleum Geo-Services seeks a wide range of information pertaining to Rimini Street's development of software and services for Oracle products, as well as regarding the use of "crawlers, robots, indexing tools, or automated methods of downloading" to obtain support materials, according to a motion filed Friday by PGS in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Rimini Street CEO Seth Ravin co-founded former SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow, which also provided lower-cost support for Oracle software. Oracle sued SAP in 2007, alleging TomorrowNow workers illegally downloaded Oracle software and support materials, an action that resulted in a US$1.3 billion jury award against SAP last year.

Oracle sued Rimini Street in January 2010, alleging that Ravin duplicated TomorrowNow's "corrupt business model." However, Rimini Street has maintained that it acts within its customers' rights under their software licenses, and has done nothing wrong.

PGS provides a range of services that help oil companies discover oil and gas reserves, according to its website. It is based in Oslo but has regional offices in Houston and elsewhere.

Oracle's subpoena requests are too vague and overly burdensome, PGS argued in its motion. In addition, much of what Oracle desires regards "activities that took place at Rimini's facilities on Rimini's equipment," the company said.

"Moreover, the website from which Oracle alleges the improper downloading took place is a website 'maintained by Oracle," it states. "Oracle is in an eminently better position to determine what activities took place on its own website."

Oracle has served subpoenas on about 87 Rimini Street customers since Jan. 25, according to a court filing made last month in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. "Oracle has received approximately 62 document productions in response to these and prior-served subpoenas," it adds.

Oracle declined to comment on the subpoenas.

Along with a handful of other companies, Rimini Street caters to customers with stable ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems and little desire for upgrades, which are only available through vendor-provided support. Rimini Street's service, which the company says customers will pay at least 50 percent less for than vendor support, includes features like 24-7 support, customization fixes and tax updates.

Observers are watching the Oracle-Rimini Street case closely, believing the outcome could clear up uncertainties surrounding the third-party maintenance market.

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

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