A case of software licensing indemnification

Epicrealm is a former web acceleration company that stopped marketing and selling its products around 2003 filed lawsuits last year against a group of 13 companies including Safelite for allegedly infringing on two patents that cover the way in which many dynamic web pages are constructed and served.

Although Oracle isn’t part of any of the lawsuits, the company supplies software that delivers dynamic web pages. Under the terms of its software license agreement, Oracle agrees to indemnify its customers against patent infringement claims.  Based on this indemnification clause, Oracle and IBM were forced to contribute an undisclosed sum to Safelite’s settlement with Epicrealm last June.

Following the settlement, Oracle filed its claim against Epicrealm on 30 June in the US District Court in Delaware.  Oracle denies that it infringes on any of the Epicrealm patents, and furthermore argues that the disputed patents are invalid.

Oracle’s filling of the legal claim against Epicrealm is an effort to invalidate two of the company’s patents.  The software vendor is seeking to prevent future claims or allegations, Oracle said in its legal complaint against Epicrealm: “Oracle [has] a reasonable apprehension that Epicrealm will accuse Oracle, Oracle’s products and/or Oracle’s customers of infringing one or more of the Epicrealm patents, and/or additional Oracle customers will sue Oracle for indemnity as a result of Epicrealm’s patent infringement claims.”

The Oracle lawsuit could provide a boost to the legal procedure. Patent owners often go after small companies hoping that they will prefer to settle the case and avoid the legal costs. A lawyer representing Friendfinder, another defendant in the case has previously accused Epicrealm of pursuing such a strategy.

Oracle however has the financial means to pursue its legal case to the end, which could result in the EpicRealm patents getting invalidated.

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