"Over the years, Rimini Street responded to each Oracle letter, explained the appropriateness of Rimini Street's practices and procedures, and repeatedly offered to meet and discuss any questions or concerns Oracle might have about Rimini Street's processes and procedures," it states.
Rimini admitted it has used automated downloading tools, but said they were necessary "because Oracle refused to help its customers identify and take delivery of such large volumes of materials."
In June 2007, Oracle changed the terms and conditions on its Web site, disallowing the use of such tools, according to Rimini Street. This action was anticompetitive and in violation of Oracle's customers' contractual rights, the filing states.
"Oracle's efforts escalated in December 2008 when Oracle began interfering with Rimini Street's performance of an authorized download for a large client switching from Oracle to Rimini Street support by blocking Rimini Street access to the Oracle support websites," it adds. Oracle relented after appeals from Rimini and the customer, according to the filing.
As "a good-faith attempt at conflict reduction," Rimini agreed to stop using automated download tools in January 2009, telling Oracle of its decision the following month.
Rimini Street also spoke with Oracle representatives in February 2009 and offered to share internal information with the vendor "and/or to work out an agreement that would utilize an independent third party auditor reporting back to both parties to confirm Rimini Street's compliance with its standard processes and procedures," the filing states.
Oracle "is committed to customer choice and vigorous competition, but draws the line with any company, big or small, that steals its intellectual property," company spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said via e-mail. "The massive theft that Rimini and Mr. Ravin engaged in is not healthy competition. We will prove this in court."
Privately held Rimini Street says revenue grew 270 percent year-over-year in 2009, and that it now has nearly 300 clients, 160 employees and $150 million in "sales backlog." In addition, it claims a 95 percent annual renewal rate.
In an interview, Ravin equated third-party software maintenance to independent oil change shops, saying the same rights consumers have to take their cars to places besides the original dealer apply to his own business.
Oracle's suit has put a slight damper on sales, according to Ravin.
"We continued to close business, including some of the largest deals ever," since the suit was filed, he said. "[But] I think we had a few deals that have not moved forward because of the litigation. We believe that's a good part of the intent of the suit, to slow our business down."
Rimini Street expects to spend "millions and millions of dollars" to pay its legal counsel in the case, he said. The company anticipated the suit and budgeted for the legal fees, which it considers "an investment we are making to finally put this issue to rest."
The case is "critical on so many counts," said Ray Wang, partner with analyst firm Altimeter Group.
"It's imperative that the rules of engagement for third-party maintenance be established," Wang said. "That's the big question in the room. People want it. How can you do it in a way that's respectful to Oracle's intellectual property rights and respectful to the customer's rights? Right now, the rules are just murky."
"If anything (comes) out of all this, hopefully there are some rules of engagement that are created," he added. "Right now customers are looking everywhere to cut costs."
If Rimini Street wins, the market for third-party maintenance will be a more welcome prospect to other providers, he said. But if it loses, Oracle may have "shut out or stopped people from thinking about this."