SAP vs. Oracle vs. Rimini Street: The Soap Opera Continues

SAP raises the white flag in its legal battle with Oracle, but where does that leave Rimini Street?

Larry Ellison is a bit of a drama king: His company, Oracle, always seems to be embroiled in some type of legal drama. Of late: Larry vs. the U.S. Government. Larry vs. Google. Larry vs. the European Commission.

What's next: Larry Ellison vs. The World?

Back in 2007, you'll recall, Ellison & Co. filed suit against TomorrowNow, a provider of third-party maintenance and support services for Oracle's enterprise software, and its sugar-daddy parent company SAP. In early 2010, Oracle filed suit against Rimini Street, a provider of third-party maintenance and support services for Oracle's enterprise software.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Oracle does not take too kindly to those who attempt to co-opt its money-making maintenance business. It's a cash cow that Oracle (and other enterprise vendors) have been milking for years. (Say it with me: "Mo' Money! Mo' Money! Mo' Money!")

The back story of this whole Oracle-TomorrowNow-SAP-Rimini Street saga is worthy of its own soap opera—let's call it "The Rich & the Restless." (Here's a good primer.) There's plenty of incestuous business relations and broken alliances, alleged IP theft, dashing executives at war, courtroom drama and that unannounced visit of former SAP CEO Leo Apotheker to Larry Ellison's holiday party last winter. (OK, I made that last part up.)

The most recent plot twist involved SAP. Staring at the impending trial scheduled for November, SAP execs metaphorically laid down their weapons at the feet of Ellison in an effort to end the whole thing. As I wrote in SAP Raises the White Flag to Oracle, SAP (again) admitted to TomorrowNow's mistakes, acknowledged the Oracle illegal downloads and copyright infringement by TN, and stated that since they were responsible for TN's actions, they were willing to pay for those errors.

The future of that case now hangs on the amount of damages to which Oracle and SAP can agree. However, the fiscal gulf separating the sides (think billions) is very wide.

The SAP "surrender" leads one to speculate just where that leaves Rimini Street, since the cases offer many similarities.

I reached out to Dave Rowe, Rimini Street's SVP of global marketing and alliances, to get his and CEO Seth Ravin's reaction to the news.

Ravin, who's personal history is intertwined with that of Oracle, TomorrowNow and SAP, has never been one to shy away from much of anything. Rimini Street, in fact, filed a counterclaim against Oracle in March, three months after Oracle launched its suit.

Rowe e-mailed me this response: "The SAP case is unrelated to the Rimini Street case and will have no bearing on Rimini Street's litigation against Oracle. SAP has strategically chosen to focus on its primary business challenges and has—since the beginning of the litigation with Oracle—elected not to invest the time and effort to fight and win the TomorrowNow case."

"SAP says it believes in choice for customers," Rowe says, "but it has bigger, more serious challenges with its core business as it faces a mid-life crisis of sorts with many other obstacles."

In addition, he claims that Rimini Street "is a completely separate business with a different set of processes and the legal case is completely different as well."

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