Mars vs Oracle: Interesting legal case

Yesterday I was pinged by my fellow Oracle-On-VMware-Licensing-Guru Dave Welch at the House of Brick. He wrote a very interesting article about Mars filing suit against Oracle. Part of the discussion was Oracle’s view on licensing Oracle programs on virtual environments.  Within 2 months, it was dismissed. 

First of all I applaud Mars for sticking to it’s guns on enforcing their contractual rights. Secondly I applaud Dave’s well structured analysis of available material and getting it out in the open. Thirdly, I am entirely unsurprised about the outcome of this court filing!

In the 2012 VMworld session I already outlined Oracle’s point of view:

 “Oracle’s goal is not to go to court. Their goal is to make you spend more money with Oracle.”

Many clients find it very hard to believe that there is no merit behind Oracle’s arguments, even after repeatedly investigating Oracle’s footnotes (for a comprehensive overview of all issues, check Don Sullivan’s  VMware Blog post).

Why it will never make to Oracle case law

Major software vendors panic when they hear ‘licensing’ in conjunction with ‘court verdict’. For good reasons: Had this particular filing made it to final judgement,  I would have been able to name 8 clients in 8 seconds, each of whom would sue Oracle for damages in excess of an 8 digit or higher number. And so, risking a ruling in the client’s favor potentially risks revenue outlooks projected to shareholders. Stock prices would go down. Sales revenues would stay down.  The vendor would risk claims for damages originating from deals made in the past. Lastly, the negative publicity will cause serious damages for any vendor. Indeed, the credibility of a software vendor would be at stake.

The simple and predictable resolution for a software vendor is to visit the client, pay compensation for incurred costs and give a – let’s say – 99,999% discount on the software licenses required. Possibly a price-hold for the next 5 years. All under NDA. And a good laugh on Larry’s boat about the past dispute. With that in place, no sensible CIO or legal counsel would spend another penny on a lawyer only to make it come to a verdict.

That’s the single reason why there is no Oracle case law on this oh-so-obvious FUD.

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