The Top Eight Things You Need To Know About Oracle Legal
19th Oct 2020
Most people rarely interact with lawyers, and that’s a good thing! After all, corporate lawyers are expensive and use scary phrases such as tortious interference.
In the Oracle world, the threat of escalation to its legal counsel is perceived to be the “how ‘bout we step outside” bar-brawl moment that may result in usage rights being revoked.
No one wants to be responsible for that outcome, especially if Oracle software is core to your business operations! The truth is that Oracle almost never pursues litigation with its customers. Ever. To that end, it is more appropriate to think of Oracle Legal as an extension to its sales organization.
For those with the right combination of technical expertise, contractual knowledge, negotiation experience, and confidence, being promoted to Oracle Legal is rightfully considered a form of begging on the publisher’s behalf.
Here are the top eight things you need to know about Oracle Legal
Its goal is to get you and the sales organization back to the negotiation table to work out a deal. If Oracle actually (or primarily) cared about protecting its IP, then it would introduce license keys into its software, stage downloads behind a paid firewall, implement technical limitations, etc. Oracle knows that if its software were easier to track and manage, then companies would license less of it. Oracle has chosen a cat and mouse business model to maximize profit.
Its lawyers are not former database or system administrators with a working technical knowledge of the software. This is perhaps the most frustrating dynamic for those of us who are and do, respectively. The same is true for the average Oracle LMS auditor.
Its lawyers are also not experts in Oracle’s licensing policies! This should come as no surprise given there are thousands of pages scattered among license manuals, implementation guides, and support and policy documents. Oracle Legal relies on LMS auditors, salespeople, and others, to inform and advise. We find Oracle’s lawyers to be taken aback by a well-informed lawyer on the customer’s side.
Oracle Legal will interpret and apply its license policies to its fullest commercial extent. In this way, how much is charged for software is often utterly disconnected from the value received. Oracle routinely levies multimillion-dollar license shortfalls that even a rudimentary understanding of the software can debunk. Oracle Legal and LMS alike will turn a blind eye and deaf ear to such merit-based arguments.
The right to terminate usage rights (i.e., the “nuclear option”) exists within every software contract you have ever signed for any software from anyone. This reminder is often the sign-off within formal communication from Oracle Legal. It is true that you do not buy or own software; rather, you license the right to use it. That said, Oracle cannot reach into your data center and disable its software. At worst, it can prohibit your access to Oracle Support.
Somebody, somewhere within Oracle Legal and executive management understands it would hurt the bottom line if required to publicly defend many of its policies and business practices. Stated differently, everyone at Oracle is in sales whether they know it or not. Most people want to believe their work is meaningful, as IP protection arguably is. However, the line between piracy and paying a fair price is more art than science in Oracle’s case.
Engaging Oracle Legal is a calculated “cost of sale” driven by sales leadership. In other words, Oracle Legal isn’t a free internal resource. As with any legal battle, the winner is often the most well-funded party. While Oracle is infinitely more patient, long-suffering, and funded than you are, there is a point where the license, support, and/or subscription amount is not worth pursuing. This is equally true for you. Settling simply means agreeing to a price to make it all go away for both parties, but mostly for you.
Purposefully engaging Oracle Legal is to accept its home-court advantage, at least up until the final seconds of the game. Most people do not want to live through this type of anxiety-ridden set of interactions. For those with a defensible position, it may be worth it, but it is not easy.
It is important to note that much has been written about Oracle’s ambiguous contractual terms, policies labeled “for educational use only” bottom-of-page, punitive view of VMware, complex compliance documentation, etc.
However, it is one thing to write about such matters; it is another to stand in the gap for a customer, wrongly accused of stealing and bullied into spending millions of dollars.
Remend’s goal in such situations is to assess uncompensated value (to Oracle), educate the customer on mitigation strategies and/or market leading terms, and work to keep from getting sideways with Oracle again.