Oracle claims firm stole its intellectual property

Oracle Corp has filed a suit against a little known rival that provides low-cost software maintenance services, in a case similar to one that Oracle is fighting against rival SAP AG.

The lawsuit, filed in US district court in Nevada on Monday, alleges that privately held Rimini Street stole copyrighted material using the online access codes of Oracle customers.

Rimini Street Chief Executive Seth Ravin denied the allegations, saying in an interview yesterday that his company had done nothing wrong.

"We are going to fight this battle," he said. "The specific allegations we are going to be answering vigorously and aggressively when the time comes in court."

Las Vegas-based Rimini Street sells updates and bug-fixes to Oracle's software for about half of what Oracle charges its customers. Ravin said his company booked about $150 million (£93 million) in business last year.

The charges are similar to claims that Oracle made in a high-profile lawsuit against SAP's TomorrowNow business unit.

Oracle alleges that SAP's Texas-based TomorrowNow business unit illegally used customer log-ins to steal copyrighted materials from Oracle's password-protected Web site.

That case is due to go to trial in San Francisco federal court in November.

Ravin is a co-founder of TomorrowNow, which SAP bought in January 2005. He founded Rimini Street in September 2005.

Maintenance services are one of Oracle's core profit generators. That business generated $11.8 billion (£7.3 billion) in its most recent fiscal year, or about half Oracle's total revenue.

"We are committed to enforcing our intellectual property rights against those who steal or infringe" upon them, Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said in a statement.