Lately, it seemed that perhaps Oracle had lost their Midas touch that seemed to charm judges and juries alike, striking out in both the Google API case and the HP “Itanic” cases. It seems such concerns were premature, as Oracle has narrowly avoided a third strike by winning the SAP TomorrowNow case—along with a hefty settlement of $306 million in damages. Not quite the amount they really want, but certainly a haul.
Quick refresher, as this case has been going on for a very, very long time: way back in the late 90’s, TomorrowNow started as a company that specialized in upgrading and providing technical services to PeopleSoft systems. In 2002 they branched out to provide third party support for various kinds of enterprise software, including both PeopleSoft and JD Edwards. TomorrowNow was purchased by SAP in 2005; PeopleSoft was purchased by Oracle the same year.
In 2007, Oracle slapped SAP with a lawsuit accusing them of “corporate theft on a grand scale” due to TomorrowNow having downloaded thousands of documents and programs from Oracle’s Customer Connection technical support website using logins of Oracle customers whose support contracts had either already expired or were about to.
SAP briefly tried to argue that TomorrowNow had been entitled to download the materials as they had been contracted to perform third party support; that didn’t last long. In the end, it came down to TomorrowNow being pretty obviously in the wrong and the only question being how many millions were owed to Oracle– Oracle claimed it was billions, not millions, using the argument that each of the clients who employed TomorrowNow’s services would otherwise have employed Oracle Support. At one point, a judge awarded Oracle $1.3 billion, but another judge threw that verdict out.
That Oracle would get a quick admission of guilt and willingness to bargain was not at all a forgone conclusion. To see a very different outcome, take a look Oracle’s lawsuit on another third party support firm, Rimini Street. Interesting side note: Rimini Street CEO Seth Ravin was a founder of TomorrowNow. Hmmmm.
SAP has agreed to pay the $306 million, hoping to avoid yet another trial. Oracle says that agreement only paves the way for an appeal. What do we here at Eye on Oracle have to say about this decision? Well, At least Oracle’s winnings come close to matching their losses in the HP trial. At this rate, they might just break even…