Oracle and the EU are escalating their legal battle over the Sun acquisition. The EU took the first step towards blocking the merger Monday with a formal Statement of Objections
. Oracle immediately responded with a statement
of its own, saying the EU has a "profound misunderstanding" about competition in the database market and "open source dynamics". Sources expected
the objection to come soon after Oracle, led by CEO, Larry Ellison, refused to give up the MySQL database in the merger. The company says it will "vigorously oppose" the EU's Statement of Objections.
Oracle's release pointedly states "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." According to Oracle, there are many competitors in the database market. It mentions IBM, Microsoft, and Sybase but does not name any open source competitors besides MySQL. Oracle adds that the Sun acquisition is "essential" to competiton in the server market and the continued strength of the Java development platform.
The Statement of Objections confirms previous reports
indicating that MySQL is the only barrier standing in the way of a Sun-Oracle merger. The EU wants to make sure that the increasingly popular open source systems continue to provide an alternative to commercial alternatives. "The Commission has an obligation to ensure that customers would not face reduced choice or higher prices as a result of this takeover," said
Neelie Kroes, competition commissioner of the European Commission.
The US Department of Justice also issued a statement
in response to the EU's objection. The statement reiterates the department's reasons for approving the merger saying that customers would still have a variety of open source and proprietary database products to choose from. "The department also concluded that there is a large community of developers and users of Sun's open source database with significant expertise in maintaining and improving the software, and who could support a derivative version of it," said Attorney General Molly Boast of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.