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HP & Oracle Each Wants Court to Say It’s Right

The litigation caps the dogfight HP sparked by hiring Léo Apotheker, the former CEO of Oracle’s hereditary enemy SAP

Ahead of a May 31 trial, HP and Oracle Monday separately asked the court for a summary judgment in its favor to resolve their bruising fight over whether Oracle can legally stop supporting servers based on Intel's Itanium chip.

HP, the biggest of the few Itanium users, claims Oracle is contractually obliged to continue supporting its Itanium boxes.

Oracle claims it isn't and stopped porting its software to the architecture last year claiming the chip was secretly at end of life. Oracle's decision caused HP sales to tank.

The litigation caps the dogfight HP sparked by hiring Léo Apotheker, the former CEO of Oracle's hereditary enemy SAP, as its CEO and bringing in one-time Oracle president and now Oracle antagonist Ray Lane as non-executive chairman.

Oracle retaliated by hiring ousted HP CEO Mark Hurd as co-president.

HP sued Hurd and claims Oracle general counsel Dorian Daley promised Oracle "would continue to work together" to settle that suit. HP sued again to bring Oracle back into the fold and Oracle countersued charging HP with failing to disclose that it was paying Intel to keep Itanium going because it was such a profit center when a cheaper x86 architecture would do as well.

HP is using some happy joint press release statements as evidence of an enforceable agreement and said in a statement late Monday that when Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was deposed under oath he was forced to retract his claim that Intel CEO Paul Otellini told him Itanium was nearing the end of its life. It also got Hurd to say in a deposition that not telling customers HP was paying Intel to develop the Itanium wasn't misleading.

Oracle attorney Dan Wall, also good for a statement, said, "We don't believe, nor do we think HP really believes, that a settlement agreement relating to Mark Hurd's employment could possibly obligate Oracle to write new software for a platform that is clearly end of life. We are pleased the court now has the evidence needed to see HP's purported contract claims for what they are."

He also claimed that "HP's documents and executive deposition testimony make indisputable the fact that Itanium is nearing the end of life as Oracle said. Intel documents confirm that as well - which is why despite repeated efforts by HP to get Intel to refute Oracle's March 22 press release, Intel has refused to say more than that it intends to deliver the two announced versions of Itanium.

"HP documents reference HP-UX on Itanium as on a ‘death march' and confess that Intel would be doing ‘high fives' to no longer have to develop the chip given its poor performance and market traction and the huge opportunity cost associated with it. HP's documents also contemplate various options to deal with the inevitability of Itanium's end of life, including paying Intel to ‘elongate' its life. HP's documents make clear that HP was intent on ‘creating a market perception of long-term viability' and introducing versions of the chip that are ‘more of an illusion than of technical significance.' In other words, HP's strategy was to mislead the market and its customers as to the real status of Itanium. Oracle will not participate in this fraud."

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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