Oracle : "EU doesn’t understand open source"

By Dave Bailey
10 Nov 2009 View Comments
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European Union
EC objects to Oracle acquistion of Sun - and the MySQL database arm

Business software firm Oracle released a statement yesterday in an effort to counter the European Commission's claim that Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, and its open source database subsidiary MySQL, would reduce competition in the open source sector.

Oracle was critical of the Commission’s knowledge about the database market and open source software. “The Commission's statement of objection reveals a profound misunderstanding of both database competition and open-source dynamics,” said the statement.

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The statement continued in the same vein: “It is well understood by those knowledgeable about open-source software that because MySQL is open source, it cannot be controlled by anyone. That is the whole point of open source.”

Sun paid nearly $1bn (£600m) for MySQL in 2008, with no problems from either US or European authorities.

However, when Oracle bid $7.4bn (£4.5bn) for the troubled enterprise hardware firm, the EU raised objections. It has said it will make a decision by January 2010.

Sun has been losing money since the EU investigation began. If the deal is blocked and Oracle appeals, the acquisition process could be a long one, and prove difficult for Sun's balance sheet and customers.

Oracle's statement also argues that the database market is competitive enough, and that further consolidation in this market shouldn’t be subject to EC rulings. “The database market is intensely competitive with at least eight strong players, including IBM, Microsoft, Sybase and three distinct open-source vendors. It added: "Oracle and MySQL offer very different database products.”

“There is no basis in European law for objecting to a merger of two of eight firms selling differentiated products. Mergers like this occur regularly and have not been prohibited by US or European regulators in decades,” added Oracle.

Oracle added: “Given the lack of any evidence of competitive harm, we are confident we will ultimately obtain unconditional clearance of the transaction. ”

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