Larry Ellison, Oracle and litigation: A business that's not a business

If only lawyers could make money rather than costing money


Analysis Oracle's chalked up yet another stunning courtroom loss.

In May, the database giant failed in its bid to have Google stump up $9bn on Android and stake a sweeping claim over APIs and how they're broadly used.

And now, this week, Oracle was ordered to pay Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) $3bn for reneging on a commitment to put its software on HPE's Itanic servers.

That figure is the size of Oracle's entire cloud business during a single quarter. It might seem as though Oracle is in court quite a lot, but to be fair it's probably not – most likely less than the headlines suggest, and less than those involved in the smartphone sector in recent years.

There's a lot of litigation in the field of technology. It attracts cases like a road kill does flies because there's so much money involved – both present and future potential. At one point in smart phones, it resembled the final scene of Reservoir Dogs, with everybody firing at everybody else.

And yes, Oracle is right to both defend its trademarks and copyrights and to protect its business by law, should it feel the need.

It's won cases against Rimini Street for $50m and SAP for $1.3bn over TomorrowNow, which it was found illegally downloaded its code.

It's just that Oracle's cases are bigger and make greater claims to unfairness. Oracle is not a retiring company, so its legal disputes are that much bigger.

Case in point: the firm's response to an employee claiming malpractice – probably falsely – in its cloud business accounting has been, guess what? Threatening to throw the legal juggernaut at the individual.

Now, Oracle isn't letting the HPE case go, and as you would expect, has vowed to appeal.

"It is very clear that any contractual obligations were reciprocal and HP breached its own obligations. Now that both trials have concluded, we intend to appeal both today's ruling and the prior ruling from Judge Kleinberg," executive vice president and general counsel Dorian Daley said in a statement.

The Google case, a different type of suit, remember, seems dead – for now at least.

But based on its past actions, I don't think we should rule out further big-brand-type litigation from the world's number-one maker of databases.

My only question is this: shouldn't Oracle have different priorities at this time?

Litigation is part of doing business, but aside from God Larry Ellison is possibly the only person at Oracle who knows the true size of Oracle's total legal bill over these last years.

Probably Oracle can comfortably swallow that bill, but with the firm's vast, cash-cow on-prem software business falling: for how long?

HPE was a different case – Oracle was in defense – and yet it's determined to fight on, having lost. Google/Android case was a big-roll-o-the-dice that looked and sounded like SCO's attempt to hit the jackpot on Linux by taking on IBM.

At this point, it would seem that Oracle's time would be better served devising a sustainable way out of the place where its business now resides instead. ®


Other stories you might like

  • North Korea pulled in $400m in cryptocurrency heists last year – report

    Plus: FIFA 22 players lose their identity and Texas gets phony QR codes

    In brief Thieves operating for the North Korean government made off with almost $400m in digicash last year in a concerted attack to steal and launder as much currency as they could.

    A report from blockchain biz Chainalysis found that attackers were going after investment houses and currency exchanges in a bid to purloin funds and send them back to the Glorious Leader's coffers. They then use mixing software to make masses of micropayments to new wallets, before consolidating them all again into a new account and moving the funds.

    Bitcoin used to be a top target but Ether is now the most stolen currency, say the researchers, accounting for 58 per cent of the funds filched. Bitcoin accounted for just 20 per cent, a fall of more than 50 per cent since 2019 - although part of the reason might be that they are now so valuable people are taking more care with them.

    Continue reading
  • Tesla Full Self-Driving videos prompt California's DMV to rethink policy on accidents

    Plus: AI systems can identify different chess players by their moves and more

    In brief California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said it’s “revisiting” its opinion of whether Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving feature needs more oversight after a series of videos demonstrate how the technology can be dangerous.

    “Recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology, open investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the opinions of other experts in this space,” have made the DMV think twice about Tesla, according to a letter sent to California’s Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate’s transportation committee, and first reported by the LA Times.

    Tesla isn’t required to report the number of crashes to California’s DMV unlike other self-driving car companies like Waymo or Cruise because it operates at lower levels of autonomy and requires human supervision. But that may change after videos like drivers having to take over to avoid accidentally swerving into pedestrians crossing the road or failing to detect a truck in the middle of the road continue circulating.

    Continue reading
  • Alien life on Super-Earth can survive longer than us due to long-lasting protection from cosmic rays

    Laser experiments show their magnetic fields shielding their surfaces from radiation last longer

    Life on Super-Earths may have more time to develop and evolve, thanks to their long-lasting magnetic fields protecting them against harmful cosmic rays, according to new research published in Science.

    Space is a hazardous environment. Streams of charged particles traveling at very close to the speed of light, ejected from stars and distant galaxies, bombard planets. The intense radiation can strip atmospheres and cause oceans on planetary surfaces to dry up over time, leaving them arid and incapable of supporting habitable life. Cosmic rays, however, are deflected away from Earth, however, since it’s shielded by its magnetic field.

    Now, a team of researchers led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) believe that Super-Earths - planets that are more massive than Earth but less than Neptune - may have magnetic fields too. Their defensive bubbles, in fact, are estimated to stay intact for longer than the one around Earth, meaning life on their surfaces will have more time to develop and survive.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022