August 16, 2019
A recent Law 360 story by Dave Simpson, “9th Circ. Keeps Oracle’s Rimini Injunction, $29M Atty Fee Win,” reports that the Ninth Circuit said that Rimini Street Inc. still must pay Oracle Corp. $28.5 million in attorney fees and largely affirmed an injunction that bars the software support service company from copying Oracle's software identified in the copyright infringement case. In a unanimous, unpublished decision, the panel found that Nevada federal court did not abuse its discretion when it issued the injunction and that the injunction is not moot.
“The court pointed to the fact that Oracle and Rimini were direct competitors, explained that Rimini was able to gain increasing market share by offering lower prices for its service than Oracle offered, and that these lower prices were possible because Rimini’s infringing conduct saved the company time and money,” the panel said. “This conclusion was supported by the record, including Rimini’s own internal e-mails.” The injunction is not moot because Rimini has not shown that although it has stopped the infringing behavior, the challenged conduct won’t start back up again, the panel said.
The finding is the most recent in a hotly contested lawsuit that Oracle filed against Rimini in 2010, seeking to stop the competitor from copying Oracle's software, which Rimini argued it needed to serve clients. Oracle initially asserted two dozen claims against Rimini and its CEO, alleging willful copyright infringement and violations of federal and state computer hacking laws, among others, according to court documents.
Though Rimini had changed its business practices, the case went to trial in September 2015, and a jury found that the company's former practices infringed Oracle's copyright. But the jury concluded that the infringement was "innocent" because the company had no reason to believe its conduct constituted infringement. The jury awarded Oracle about $50 million in compensatory damages and found Rimini liable for copyright claims and state hacking claims, but the Ninth Circuit later tossed the state claims and reduced the damages award to $35.6 million.
A Nevada federal judge in August 2018 ordered Rimini to pay Oracle $28.5 million in attorney fees, saying the award was still justified even though the Ninth Circuit reversed Oracle’s state-law claims. The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court last year when the high court agreed to hear a dispute over an award of $12 million in "nontaxable costs" spent by Oracle in the litigation.
In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh in March, the high court overturned a ruling that awarded Oracle more than $12 million in litigation costs. Although the Copyright Act states that prevailing parties can recover their "full costs," the justices held that costs are limited to six narrower categories found in the general litigation cost statute.
The panel affirmed the fee award. “The district court permissibly concluded that the claims ‘involve[d] a common core of facts [and were] based on related legal theories because the action was first and foremost a copyright infringement action,’” the panel said. “Accordingly, it was within the district court’s discretion to determine that apportionment was not required beyond the twenty percent reduction.”