Oracle sued over UI tech in Fusion Applications

Toolkit maker MB Technologies says Oracle overstepped the bounds of their licensing agreement

A Georgia company is suing Oracle for fraud and copyright infringement, saying the vendor is unlawfully using the company's technology to build user interfaces associated with Fusion Applications, a long-awaited, next-generation product family set for release next year.

MB Technologies of Warner Robins, Georgia, is the developer of Bindows, a toolkit that lets developers create "the exact look and feel" of a Windows user interface for their Web applications, according to the complaint.

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The company entered a licensing agreement in 2004 with EPM (enterprise performance management) vendor Hyperion, according to the suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

After Oracle acquired Hyperion in 2007, MB asked for an addendum to the original agreement, the complaint states.

The companies met several times, and Oracle executives told MB the vendor intended to use the Bindows technology only in Hyperion products that existed at the time of the acquisition, it adds.

Oracle officials also said the company planned to replace Bindows entirely "in the near future," according to the complaint. Those pledges were used by Oracle to "induce" MB to agree to an addendum "at lower license pricing," it states.

But in October 2007, Oracle sent MB a draft of the addendum that included a section stating it would license Bindows "for use in Oracle Fusion products," something the companies had never actually discussed, and which would "necessarily have changed the pricing of the aforesaid license," according to the complaint.

MB then offered to negotiate a Bindows licensing deal for Fusion, but Oracle ultimately removed the clause from the addendum, according to the complaint.

However, in recent months MB learned that Oracle was in fact using Bindows in connection with Fusion products, according to an e-mail exchange filed with the suit.

"Bindows is used in three EPM components that are add-ons to the Fusion applications," Oracle executive Robert Gersten wrote in reply to MB, according to the filing. "We believe it would be better for my group to not re-write these GUIs of these components. It would be nice to work out something that is favorable to both parties."

But the two sides were apparently unable to agree on a price.

MB claims it made repeated attempts to reach an agreement with Oracle, but that ultimately, its "good faith efforts were in vain."

The company is asking for a variety of damages, including any profits Oracle has made from the use of Bindows. An attorney for MB Technologies could not immediately be reached.

Oracle has not yet filed a response to MB's complaint. An Oracle spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

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