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By | John Oates 18th November 2010 16:07

Oracle whacked by DoJ complaint

'Shabby treatment' of Sun customers must stop

An industry group of 130 hardware maintenance providers has complained to the Department of Justice that they've been unfairly squeezed since Larry Ellison bought Sun Microsystems.

The Service Industry Association has been complaining about Oracle's tactics for some time, but has now written to the DoJ.

The SIA said Oracle's behaviour was an abuse of its dominant position and aimed to deliberately exclude independent players from looking after Sun hardware.

These actions include restricting access to software upgrades, and imposing onerous conditions on customers who opt out of Oracle maintenance contracts only to later return. These return clauses, the SIA alleges, are "clearly intended to intimidate customers from leaving Oracle support in the first place".

The Association accuses Oracle of insisting on all or nothing contracts: you cannot choose to have some of your Sun hardware maintained independently and some by Oracle - it has to be all or nothing.

If an end-user does leave Oracle and then chooses to return they must pay Oracle a "requalification fee" equivalent to 150 per cent of the last paid support fee, or 150 per cent of the list price for support for the hardware.

Claudia Betzner, executive director of the SIA, said in July when a previous complaint was made:

Oracle’s strategy appears to force customers into a lose-lose arrangement. Either a customer puts its entire installed base of Sun hardware under Oracle support (no exceptions) or Oracle will cut all ties to the end-user, including refusing access to firmware updates, time and materials support and security fixes for Solaris.

Oracle’s position appears to be the most onerous and draconian of any major hardware manufacturer, most of which provide unfettered access to firmware updates and operating system patches. Other hardware manufacturers routinely grant even the smallest of end- users time and materials support.

Betzner previously called for a Bill of Rights to protect hardware customers from unfair or anti-competitive action taken against customers who choose another provider for their support.

There's more information on the complaint against Oracle on the SIA website. ®

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