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EU Commission Approves Oracle-Sun Deal With No Conditions
Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 03:28 PM EST

It's official. The Oracle-Sun merger has been approved by the EU Commission. There are no conditions.

Here's the press release, in which Neelie Kroes states that she is now satisfied that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition: "I am now satisfied that competition and innovation will be preserved on all the markets concerned. Oracle's acquisition of Sun has the potential to revitalise important assets and create new and innovative products."

I'm very grateful, personally, that the EU Commission cares about Open Source, but after its extensive investigation into MySQL, despite some misinformation, as I viewed it, it found, "The Commission's in-depth investigation showed that although MySQL and Oracle compete in certain parts of the database market, they are not close competitors in others, such as the high-end segment." That is true.

It took into account Oracle's pledges, for example the pledge to continue to release future versions under the GPL, and Oracle has already, the press release states, taken action to implement some of its other pledges "by making binding offers to third parties who currently have a licensing contract for MySQL with Sun to amend contracts" and the Commission believes that this should allow third parties "to continue to develop storage engines to be integrated with MySQL and to extend the functionality of MySQL." So I'm satisfied that the decision was based on accurate information in the end, which was my chief concern, and I consider this, considering all the possibilities that were being considered, a happy ending. Even better would be: 1) if Oracle would affirmatively confirm Sun's patent pledge regarding Linux and Red Hat and 2) if it would update the GPL version on MySQL to GPLv3.

[ Update: Here's the report [PDF], which is what they call the final decision.]

Here's the entire press release:

****************************************

Mergers: Commission clears Oracle's proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of US hardware and software vendor Sun Microsystems Inc. by Oracle Corporation, a US enterprise software company. After an in-depth examination, launched in September 2009 (see IP/09/1271 ), the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "I am now satisfied that competition and innovation will be preserved on all the markets concerned. Oracle's acquisition of Sun has the potential to revitalise important assets and create new and innovative products."

Oracle is a supplier of business software, including middleware (i.e. software that connects software components applications), database software, enterprise application software and related services.

Sun provides network computing infrastructure solutions that include computer systems, software, storage and services. In 2008, Sun acquired the open source database, MySQL.

The Commission's in-depth investigation, opened on 3 September 2009 assessed whether the acquisition of the world's leading open source database MySQL by Oracle, the leading proprietary database vendor, would lead to a significant impediment of effective competition within the EEA. The database market is highly concentrated with the three main proprietary database vendors Oracle, IBM and Microsoft accounting for approximately 85% of the market in terms of revenue.

Although Sun's share of the database market in terms of revenue is low, as users of MySQL can download and use the database for free, given its open source nature, the Commission's investigation confirmed MySQL's position as the leading open source database. The Commission's investigation therefore focussed on the nature and extent of the competitive constraint that MySQL currently exerts on Oracle and whether this would be affected by the proposed transaction.

The Commission's in-depth investigation showed that although MySQL and Oracle compete in certain parts of the database market, they are not close competitors in others, such as the high-end segment.

Given the open source nature of MySQL, the Commission also assessed Oracle's ability and incentive to remove the constraint exerted by MySQL after the merger and the extent to which this constraint could, if necessary, be replaced by other actors on the database market.

The Commission's investigation showed that another open source database, PostgreSQL, is considered by many database users to be a credible alternative to MySQL and could be expected to replace to some extent the competitive force currently exerted by MySQL on the database market. In addition, the Commission found that 'forks' (branches of the MySQL code base), which are legally possible given MySQL's open source nature, might also develop in future to exercise a competitive constraint on Oracle in a sufficient and timely manner. Given the specificities of the open source software industry, the Commission also took into account Oracle's public announcement of 14 December 2009 of a series of pledges to customers, users and developers of MySQL concerning issues such as the continued release of future versions of MySQL under the GPL (General Public Licence) open source licence. Oracle has already taken action to implement some of its pledges by making binding offers to third parties who currently have a licensing contract for MySQL with Sun to amend contracts. This is likely to allow third parties to continue to develop storage engines to be integrated with MySQL and to extend the functionality of MySQL.

The Commission also examined the potential impact of Oracle's acquisition of the intellectual property (IP) rights connected to the Java development platform in the context of the proposed transaction.

It found that Oracle's ability to deny its competitors access to important IP rights would be limited by the functioning of the Java Community Process (JCP) which is a participative process for developing and revising Java technology specifications involving numerous other important players in the IT industry, including Oracle's competitors.

The Commission also found that Oracle would not have the incentives to restrict its competitors' access to the Java IP rights as this would jeopardise the gains derived from broad adoption of the Java platform and therefore the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns in respect of the licensing of IP rights connected with Java.

The Commission also examined the potential effects arising from the proposed transaction on the market for middleware and in the 'IT stack', where the merger would strengthen Oracle's presence. It concluded that no competition concerns would arise in these areas in the light of the merged entity's market shares and prevailing competition in the markets.

More information on the case is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/ competition/mergers/cases/index/m110.html#m_5529


  


EU Commission Approves Oracle-Sun Deal With No Conditions | 182 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Move along now you lobbyists, move along
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 03:54 PM EST
Microsoft, eat your heart out.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Good!
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 03:58 PM EST
Sun would be dead if this deal had not proceeded.

I'm not confident in Oracle with respect to openness, Java, OpenOffice, and MySQL. I just think that the technologies would definitely be dead without a big backer: like IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, etc. Since IBM passed, and Microsoft would definitely have killed the open source offerings, Oracle is all that is left.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Truth-based decision making
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 03:59 PM EST
I dare say Groklaw did its little bit to help.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Now, if they could change MySQL and OpenSolaris to GPLv3 - they would be our heros!
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 04:04 PM EST
If they could change MySQL and OpenSolaris to GPLv3 - then they would have a
product line that was more opensource than Red Hat or anyone. They would be our
heros!

[ Reply to This | # ]

EU Commission Approves Oracle-Sun Deal With No Conditions
Authored by: kattemann on Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 04:14 PM EST
Good - but will they continue to develop and support OpenOffice.org? I have a
feeling that the main developers are Sun employees -

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT here
Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 04:15 PM EST


---

You are being MICROattacked, from various angles, in a SOFT manner.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here
Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 04:22 PM EST


---

You are being MICROattacked, from various angles, in a SOFT manner.

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks commentary here
Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 04:23 PM EST


---

You are being MICROattacked, from various angles, in a SOFT manner.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's basically good news
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 04:29 PM EST

The only company which is stifling competition in the IT industry is Microsoft. It really doesn't make sense to spend any time looking for problems elsewhere.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Monty won't be happy
Authored by: The Mad Hatter r on Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 04:43 PM EST

But after reading what he's written, I trust Oracle more than I trust him.


---
Wayne

http://madhatter.ca/

[ Reply to This | # ]

Change the MySQL client libraries from GPL to LGPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 05:20 PM EST
I would love to see Oracle update the licenses for the MySQL client libraries
(Connectors) for accessing MySQL databases from C/C++ applications, Java (JDBC),
ODBC, .NET, etc.

I would like the license to be changed from GPL to LGPL.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Join Larry's live talkfest
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 06:11 PM EST
explaining the meaning of all this ....
Thu Jan 27, 9am - 2pm PT
http://www.oracle.com/webapps/events/EventsDetail.jsp?p_eventId=108481

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why not post about WGA?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 22 2010 @ 05:09 AM EST
Remember the big class action with Microsoft regarding the use of WGA ?. I came
here to find out how PJ would spin this, and I find no reference at all to it
???

For you're info the judge threw out the class action, so if you want to sue MS
for losses, you have to hire you're own laywer and do it youreself. So who's
going to do that ?? any takers ?

PJ are you intending to comment on this, or just keep it quite ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Let this be the end!
Authored by: tiger99 on Friday, January 22 2010 @ 11:56 AM EST
I don't happen to like Oracle, but continuing this debate should now be unnecessary. Much has been said by all sides that was just plain wrong, or silly.

So I hope that Groklaw has a good healthy debate, as usual, for a few days, and then we can move on. It is obvious that the Earth is still rotating on its axis, the Sun still shines, and MySQL is still available, despite the predictions of the trolls.

[ Reply to This | # ]

EU Commission Approves Oracle-Sun Deal With No Conditions
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 22 2010 @ 05:42 PM EST
The bottom line is simple: If they are not bound legally to do a particular
thing then they can do whatever the hell they want...

..and they will. I would.

DEFINATELY expect some things to be killed.

[ Reply to This | # ]

RMS's Take
Authored by: Observer on Thursday, January 28 2010 @ 05:23 PM EST
I've been away from this site for a while, so please forgive me if this has been hashed out in great length.... If there is a good summary, then please just give me a link!

My impression was that RMS was generally against Oracle taking over MySQL, though he wasn't vehemently against it. On the other hand, other people (such as PJ) were generally supportive of the take over (aside from obviously being happy that Sun wasn't just going under and dropping MySQL on the floor).

Does someone have a good summary of where these two different opinions were coming from? It's true that Oracle doesn't have a good reputation for being "free and open", even though they have their own "Unbreakable Linux" (which did NOT, much to the surprise of some people, take the wind out of Red Hat's sails), but they do seem to "get" what the GPL is about, and are at least saying that they are going to play nice with the license, and not starve MySQL development. What was RMS worried about in this transaction, other than his general dislike for any kind of proprietary software and dual licensing, and what were the counters to that argument?

Thanks!

---
The Observer

[ Reply to This | # ]

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