Oracle sues over patents for dynamic web pages

Oracle is taking legal action against a US web firm which holds two controversial patents. In a pre-emptive strike, the software giant will argue that its technology does not infringe EpicRealm's patents.

EpicRealm last year sued 13 companies for patent infringement. One of those companies subsequently recovered some of its costs from Oracle because the software vendor's terms and conditions indemnified the firm against just such a suit.

EpicRealm was a web acceleration company until it stopped selling its technology in 2001. The firm had been backed with $90 million in venture capital investment and at one time employed 130 people, but when it ceased trading in 2001, just a year after raising the funding, the company's patent portfolio was one of its few assets.

The patents, numbers 5,894,554 and 6,415,335, relate to systems for managing 'dynamic web requests'. One was filed in 1999, the year in which EpicRealm predecessor InfoSpinner was formed. The other patent was first applied for in 1996.

According to news site Vnunet.com the Oracle suit has already been filed. "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," Vnunet reported the company as saying.

Last year's EpicRealm law suits were against 12 non-technology or internet related companies and one technology firm. One of those companies, FriendFinder, at one point accused EpicRealm of deliberately targeting small firms in order to establish its patent claim.

Oracle, which sells database and enterprise software, is expected to argue not only that it does not infringe EpicRealm's patents but that the patents themselves are invalid.