Oracle fires back at HP in Itanium suit, doesn't mince words

Oracle maintains that it would have never supported HP's Itanium servers if it knew Leo Apotheker and Ray Lane were being hired.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Oracle filed a cross complaint against HP in the ongoing court battle over support for Intel's Itanium platform.

In June, HP filed a civil lawsuit in the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara to force Oracle to support the Itanium platform. In March, Oracle said that it would stop supporting HP’s Itanium platform because Intel planned to shut it down in the long run. HP and Intel both denied Oracle’s claims. The two parties last month exchanged courtroom jabs over Itanium support. In the meantime, HP's high end server business is getting whacked. HP CEO Leo Apotheker noted on the company's latest conference call that Oracle's moves have frozen sales.

In the lawsuit, HP has done most of the talking---until today. Oracle blasted HP. The short version:

  • HP and Oracle issued a press release emphasizing that the two companies would work together and the database and application giant supported Itanium.
  • That press release arrived with news that HP and former CEO Mark Hurd settled a lawsuit.
  • However, Oracle didn't know that HP was about to hire Apotheker, a move that would have scuttled a deal. It didn't help that HP made Ray Lane, former operating chief at Oracle, chairman of the board.
  • Add it up and HP allegedly used fraudulent means to procure its Itanium deal.

Among the choice quotes from the complaint via AllThingsD:

This Cross-Complaint arises out of HP’s efforts to induce Oracle into an apparently perpetual and cost-free software development commitment for the Intel Itanium platform, supposedly implicit in a public reaffirmation of a colloquial “partnership,” while HP concealed that it was days away from hiring a new board chairman, Ray Lane, and new CEO, Léo Apotheker, who HP knew Oracle distrusted so completely—and justifiably—that “partnership” would be impossible. It also arises from HP’s numerous acts of disparagement and libel when, in March 2011, Oracle announced that—like most other major software vendors before it—it was discontinuing all new software development on the Intel Itanium platform. Subsequent to that announcement, HP has, among other things, falsely blamed Oracle for Itanium’s demise and the disruption to customers that unavoidably will occur when customers eventually migrate to newer platforms, and falsely claimed that Oracle has refused to provide ongoing software support and bug-fixes for Oracle’s current customers.

This meritless litigation further damaged HP’s relationship with Oracle. As Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison stated at the time: “Oracle has long viewed HP as an important partner . . . . By filing this vindictive lawsuit . . . the HP board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees. The HP Board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace.”

Léo Apotheker had previously been the CEO of Oracle’s biggest applications software competitor, SAP AG. Mr. Apotheker knew next to nothing about HP’s core businesses, so the only logical explanation for his hiring, now affirmed by HP’s recent business announcements, was that HP wanted to change direction and become more of an enterprise software company like IBM or Oracle. HP knew that Mr. Apothecary’s software background would signal to Oracle that the old relationship based on complementary interests was over. But even more importantly, HP knew that Oracle held Mr. Apotheker personally responsible for the widespread theft of Oracle’s intellectual property by an SAP subsidiary—an admitted and long-lasting theft that resulted in a $1.3 billion jury verdict against SAP in November 2010.

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