Oracle sues NEC over alleged software contract, copyright violations

A sign marks a building housing Oracle offices in Burlington, Massachusetts, U.S., June 21, 2017.
  • NEC's use of database software in ID system allegedly exceeded license
  • Oracle said it suffered over $7 million in damages

(Reuters) - Oracle America has sued Japanese information technology company NEC Corp in California federal court for allegedly infringing copyrights by breaching its license agreement to use Oracle's popular database software.

NEC uses Oracle's software in its biometric identification system in a way that exceeds the terms of their license, causing Oracle to suffer more than $7 million in damages, the Thursday complaint said.

Austin-based Oracle declined to comment on the complaint. Oracle's attorneys Fred Norton and Bree Hann of The Norton Law Firm didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, and neither did NEC.

The company's Oracle Database software -- which it said allows for the reliable and safe storage, retrieval, and alteration of data -- is one of the company's flagship products and has become "the world's most popular enterprise database," the complaint said.

Oracle said it licensed the software to NEC starting in 2004. NEC used the software in its Integra-ID 5, a biometric ID system that provides fingerprint, face, voice, and other matching capabilities to law enforcement agencies.

When it audited NEC in 2019, Oracle said it found "numerous compliance issues" with their license. NEC allegedly distributed the software in excess of its rights, paid licensing fees at a lower rate than it should have, modified the software without permission, and allowed the Ohio State Police to use it with unauthorized law-enforcement software made by another company, among other things.

NEC hasn't addressed the audit findings despite several requests since October 2020, the complaint said.

The case is Oracle America Inc. v. NEC Corp. of America, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 5:21-cv-05270.

For Oracle: Fred Norton and Bree Hann of The Norton Law Firm

For NEC Corp: N/A

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at