When Oracle Corp. decided to fight a patent infringement claim lodged against it by a tiny software firm, MangoSoft Inc., in 2002, the company was aware of the risks involved. The litigation could drag on for years, potentially costing the company millions of dollars in attorney fees. It could lose customers because the suit targeted one of Oracle’s core database products. There was also a chance it could lose the case and end up paying millions in damages and be subjected to a court injunction.

But the alternative was a lot worse; pay a financially troubled software firm $500 million in licensing fees on a patent that Oracle believed it did not infringe and was invalid.

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