Oracle subpoenas Comcast in connection with Solaris support lawsuit

Comcast is resisting Oracle's demand for documents, according to a court filing

Oracle and Comcast are locked in a legal tussle related to Oracle's intellectual-property lawsuit against Solaris OS support providers Terix and Maintech.

Comcast, a customer of the companies, is resisting a subpoena Oracle issued in search of records related to Terix and Maintech's services, according to a motion filed last week in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Oracle has sued Terix as well as another company, Maintech, saying they "engaged in a deliberate scheme to misappropriate and distribute copyrighted, proprietary Oracle software code" in the course of providing Solaris support services.

Oracle alleges that Terix and Maintech gave Comcast unauthorized Solaris updates and also induced the company to obtain these updates "after their Oracle support on the relevant servers had expired," based on an assertion that "an original license to Solaris entitles the customer to perpetual updates," the filing adds.

Oracle is seeking documents and communications pertaining to its dealing with Terix and Maintech; its Solaris licenses; and documents related to "improper access to and downloads from Oracle's support website."

Oracle and Comcast disagree over whether a protective order issued by the judge in the case applies to document productions from non-parties such as Comcast. Oracle believes it does, while Comcast doesn't, according to the filing. Comcast's position is "ridiculous," Oracle said.

Oracle served the subpoena about five months ago and despite negotiations with Comcast hasn't received the documents, according to the filing.

Its motion asks the court to order Comcast to produce the documents and Solaris licenses.

Comcast hadn't filed a response to Oracle's motion as of Thursday. A Comcast spokeswoman didn't respond to a request for comment.

Terix has denied wrongdoing and countersued Oracle last month, saying that since it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010, "Oracle has pursued a deliberate policy of attempting to eliminate competition in the market for the maintenance and support of computer hardware running the Solaris operating system."

Before the Oracle acquisition, Sun commonly allowed hardware customers and third-party providers to get Solaris updates either at no charge or a reasonable cost, according to Terix.

Third-party support providers such as Terix say they can deliver better quality to customers for less money than they'd pay the original vendor.

Oracle's subpoena against Comcast is just the latest evidence of its willingness to take on the deepest-pocketed companies in pursuit of protecting its intellectual property.

Most famously, Oracle won a sizable judgment after SAP accepted liability for wrongdoing by its former subsidiary, TomorrowNow, which offered support for Oracle software, although that case is not yet concluded.

Oracle is also suing Rimini Street, which offers support for SAP and Oracle applications. Rimini has countersued and says it operates within the boundaries of its customer's license rights with Oracle.

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

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