MySQL founder appeals against Sun-Oracle merger

Monty Widenius, founder of the MySQL open-source database business, whose fate held up Oracle’s $7.4bn purchase of Sun Microsystems for months last year, has filed an appeal against the decision by European competition authorities to clear the merger.

The European Commission said it was aware of the appeal, filed with the European courts in Luxembourg, but did not yet know the grounds. “We will defend our decision in court,” an official said on Friday.

MySQL had been acquired by Sun, and for months last year competition officials at the European Commission investigated concerns – raised by Mr Widenius and others – that if Oracle took control of Sun’s business unconditionally, it could have an incentive to suppress or restructure a product that was given away for free and posed a disruptive threat to its own business

The matter – which at one stage provoked transatlantic tensions with US competition regulators who had already cleared the deal – ended lamely given the hiatus caused. The US group published a 10-point list of commitments to reassure the commission that MySQL would remain a competitive force in the database market and, shortly afterwards, the deal was cleared.

The commitments were not legally binding, however, and much criticised by Mr Widenius at the time.

On Friday, the MySQL founder told the Financial Times that he did not want to make a full statement until Oracle had responded. But he said he believed the commitments which the US technology group gave vis-à-vis MySQL “weren’t worth the paper they were written on”.

“I would like to see some true commitments”, he said.

Mr Widenius also stressed that he was using his own money to fund the appeal and said that he was acting on behalf of the numerous people who supported an online petition seeking more protection for the MySQL business.

Other opponents of the Sun/Oracle merger last year included Microsoft, a rival to Oracle.

The non-binding commitments given by Oracle in respect of MySQL included the continued availability of storage engine APIs, certain licence-related commitments, increased spending on MySQL research and development, the creation of customer and storage engine vendor advisory boards and a pledge to maintain the MySQL reference manual.

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