LicenseFortress’ New Partner in the Fight for Fair Oracle Audits
LicenseFortress announced a new exclusive partnership with Beeman & Muchmore, LLP, the Northern California law firm founded by Arthur S. Beeman and Joel T. Muchmore, the legal duo that served as lead counsel for Mars Incorporated when it took Oracle to court for its abusive audit tactics in 2015.
Joel and Art have over 60 years of combined legal experience in the largest and most prominent law firms in the country, but, by the time the Covid-19 pandemic began taking hold, they had been questioning the role and purpose of “big law” for some time. Frustrated with the manner in which the priorities of outsized law firms clashed with the needs of their clients, they creating Beeman & Muchmore as a lean and focused virtual law firm providing legal services pursuant to a delivery model they have named “GigLaw.” To Art and Joel, “GigLaw” describes a flexible arrangement that allows the attorneys to slide seamlessly into any organization’s legal department to consult on the area they specialize in: resolving software licensing and intellectual property disputes.
“I think people across the world are rethinking… office spaces, rethinking commutes, rethinking everything that we have kind of considered ourselves boxed into for many years,” says Joel T. Muchmore. “And that rethinking is a large part of what has made Beeman & Muchmore possible.”
In this transcript, LicenseFortress’ resident blogger Lena J. Weiner sits down to chat with the two minds behind Beeman & Muchmore to learn what inspired them to join forces with LicenseFortress and their work to fight against unfair licensing practices.
This transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Lena J. Weiner: Hi, Arthur and Joel! It’s nice to meet you both. Tell us what inspired this new partnership between Beeman & Muchmore and LicenseFortress.
Joel Muchmore: Art and I have been working in software licensing — particularly with Oracle software licensing —for a number of years. We were the lead counsel for the Mars v. Oracle matter, which is, to date, the only publicly filed complaint in which a licensee challenged Oracle’s deeply unpopular auditing and licensing practices. Since that time, we have defended scores of licensees against highly contentious Oracle audits to great success. We built something of a cottage industry doing it. We’ve seen the script, we know where it’s going, and with that knowledge, we can predict the future to some degree. We consider ourselves both thought leaders on the true vanguard of both where software licensing has been and where it’s going.
And now, we’ll be working together with LicenseFortress, which has provided a truly forward-thinking model for handling the spectrum of licenses. We’ve been familiar with LicenseFortress for a number of years and have always been intrigued by the model they have: Taking the uncertainty out of Oracle licensing, being proactive, not waiting until the audit comes to attack, but instead positioning your organization perfectly to be in the right position for it when it inevitably does happen.
LW: Arthur, what would you say has been your proudest moment professionally so far?
Arthur Beeman: I have to say that any career satisfaction for me is directly related to the satisfaction of the clients, and for me, it particularly tends to be the David-versus-Goliath situations. I once had the privilege of representing a man who had invented a shock-hazard protection device that was on handheld hairdryers. He was robbed by a big-gun corporation and was entitled to a lot of money. It was just like in the movies; you pack your bags, you go to court and argue for the rights and the interests of your client, and you win.
I think, as a lawyer, that anytime you level the playing field or make things fairer for your client, anytime you improve their lot in life, it’s pretty gratifying.
LW: Joel, what professional situations do you find most satisfying?
JM: For me, it’s a matter of providing much needed clarity to a client, be it a small company, for which a derailed audit can be an existential threat, or a large company, for which it really could mean a significant derailing of key objectives. Time and time again, in-house attorneys come to us after dealing with an Oracle audit and frustratedly exclaim, “I don’t know what is going on! Up seems down, black seems white. I can’t understand these contracts! We’ve taken it to our typical outside counsel, who has not been able to give us any assistance. What is going on?” Art and I are then, in the scope of an hour-long phone call, able to unravel the threads and provide a degree of translation. The client’s problems aren’t solved by the time the call is over, but both feet are planted on the ground again, and we’re ready to move forward, with the moment of frantic bafflement diffused.
LW: Tell me a bit more about what you’re most looking forward to working on alongside the LicenseFortress team.
AB: What the partnership with LicenseFortress provides for us is the full menu. In other words, LicenseFortress is doing the same thing that we’re doing on the legal side. So, from soup to nuts, we can take care of clients’ issues, their problems, and they’re the better for having received our services.
JM: I think LicenseFortress is the rare entity that matches us in enthusiasm and energy. They have an entirely different universe of clients we’re looking forward to tapping into, and I believe they are looking forward to tapping into our universe. Historically, companies come to when they have a problem that needs solving. It has kept us very busy, but I’m looking forward to channeling our efforts towards more prophylactic, preventative solutions.
LW: Any final thoughts?
AB: We’re looking to not just partner with LicenseFortress; we’re partnering with the clients. We’re partnering with the clients in the way that we haven’t previously, and the partnership with LicenseFortress makes that more of a possibility.
The exclusive partnership between LicenseFortress and Beeman & Muchmore will be effective September 1.