Oracle vs Envisage – 7 Takeaways

This content is based on a transcript of the video, and updated August 9, 2021.

In May 2021, Oracle filed a lawsuit against Envisage Technologies. At the time, we communicated about the filing and reviewed Oracle’s claim and even wondered out loud how Envisage would defend themselves.

The recap

In the lawsuit, Oracle is claiming that Envisage only has one license from Oracle and that is not enough to run their hosted business on AWS. Typically, these claims are more nuanced. For example, your license doesn’t fit this scenario, you don’t have enough licenses, etc. In this case, however, Oracle was basically saying Envisage has almost no licenses. I would think Oracle would know if Envisage has a license or not. It’s pretty much a yes or no question. Or is it?

Envisage responds, claims reliance on AWS

Envisage finally responded to Oracle. Read the transcript of court proceedings in Oracle v Envisage (PDF, 263 KB). I’m not going to get into all the details of the claim. For an excellent overview, you can go to the Tactical Law blog. What I want to focus on is the fact that Envisage is trying to drag AWS into this lawsuit. Envisage claims they relied on AWS statements about their Oracle license-included model, AWS was an agent for Oracle, and if Oracle has a problem with Envisage then Oracle needs to take it up with AWS. I have to say, I did not see that defense coming.

Why didn’t I see it coming? Well, the AWS agreements that Envisage points to specifically state that companies cannot run subscription services using the AWS Oracle license-included model. Everyone knows that, right? Maybe not. Now Envisage not only has a fight with Oracle on their hands, but they are potentially at odds with AWS. Can you imagine being the meat in an Oracle/AWS sandwich? Glad it’s not me.

For me, this situation also demonstrates the ongoing perils of Oracle licensing. It’s difficult enough managing your licensing when you work directly with Oracle. Do you think working through another party is going to make it any easier? Do you think it’s going to offer you a level of protection? In this case Oracle doesn’t really have an audit clause to get information from Envisage. That didn’t stop Oracle. They just went to court.

First Envisage, then NEC

First Oracle sued Envisage for alleged misuse of their software. Then Oracle sued NEC for alleged misuse of Oracle software. Both Envisage and NEC embed Oracle products in their solutions. Is this going to be a pattern now? Is Oracle “going after” companies that use Oracle software in non-Oracle solutions? It’s too early to tell. In the meantime, Palisade Compliance will continue to shed light on these cases so Oracle customers can remain vigilant and avoid financial disaster.

The following is an edited transcript of the video above:

Today we want to talk to you about Oracle’s recent lawsuit for copyright infringement against Envisage. Note that Palisade Compliance does not represent Envisage, nor do we represent Oracle. We only have Oracle’s side of the story, so we eagerly await Envisage’s response to the lawsuit.

Oracle is a very litigious company; they file lawsuits and engage in lawsuits all the time. But this particular lawsuit is a textbook case study in how Oracle behaves when they believe their IP is threatened. It also highlights what not to do if you’re an Oracle customer, using their software, and are up against Oracle in a similar situation.

7 important takeaways from Oracle vs Envisage

  1. Anything you say can and may be used against you in the Court of Oracle. Whether you say something on your website, LinkedIn, another company’s press release, or have a public contract, Oracle can use information that is provided directly OR indirectly and use it against you.
  2. Despite what Oracle sales reps may say, you can use Oracle anywhere. Point back to your contract – the contract is king. If a sales rep gives you a hard time about where you are using your Oracle licenses, you can even show this docket where Oracle acknowledges you can pretty much use Oracle anywhere.
  3. Oracle legal here is saying you need to buy support when you buy a license, but that’s not true. Oracle makes it clear in their contracts that licenses and services are segmentable. There is more complexity of using Oracle and getting support through a third-party like AWS, but you can pretty much do whatever you want when it comes to support.
  4. Be careful if you’re using Standard Edition. Oracle will try to use non-compliance with SE to get you to buy Enterprise Edition if they think you are using SE outside the boundaries of your license. Read more here about Oracle SE2 licensing.
  5. Oracle terms and conditions are very complex. Oracle puts the responsibility on the customer to understand their Ts&Cs and it’s the customer’s responsibility to stay in compliance.
  6. There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with Oracle. Completely cutting off communication is absolutely the wrong thing to do. If you do this and you are using their software, you put yourself at risk of retaliation from Oracle. Be careful and make sure you are engaging with Oracle properly.
  7. Get help from Palisade Compliance. It appears that the whole Oracle vs Envisage lawsuit probably could have been avoided with better license management, better understanding of contracts, and better engagement with Oracle.
Picture of Craig Guarente
Craig Guarente
Craig is the President and Founder of Palisade Compliance, which he founded in 2011. Before 2011, Craig worked at Oracle for 16 years where he was the Global Vice President of Contracts, Business Practices, and Migrations. He was also the Global Process Owner for Oracle’s audit teams (LMS), a member of Oracle’s CIO advisory board, and on the Oracle User Group’s contract and licensing advisory board. Craig is now the leading expert on Oracle licensing, is quoted in dozens of publications, and assists with many high-profile Oracle disputes.