Arik Hesseldahl

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Oracle Obtains Judgment in Gray Market Case


Asa Mathat /

Software giant Oracle today obtained a judgment against ServiceKey, a managed service provider, and its CEO, Angela Vines. The judgment, recorded as the result of a settlement that headed off a trial, is being seen as a blow against so-called “gray market” players in the IT support business. It includes claims for copyright infringement, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Lanham Act, which is a trademark infringement law, and fraud, among others.

Oracle sued ServiceKey in the U.S. District Court for Northern California last February, saying that ServiceKey plus a second company had used Oracle software code and access credentials as part of a scheme to sell support services to companies that had no active support contract in place with Oracle itself.

ServiceKey admitted in court that it downloaded, copied and distributed Oracle’s Solaris Operating System, acquired by Oracle when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2010. The company then advertised that it could provide Solaris software patches to customers. It also trafficked in passwords to gain access to Oracle’s customer support website.

Oracle had accused ServiceKey, as IDG News reported last month, of paying Oracle technical support fees for a small number of Solaris machines it owned, but then using those credentials to offer support to its customers.

Oracle will receive no monetary damages as a result of the judgment.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik