HP, Oracle Settle Lawsuit Over Hurd's Hiring


Hewlett Packard and former CEO Mark Hurd have resolved their legal dispute over Hurd's employment with Oracle.

As part of a settlement deal announced Monday, HP has dropped the lawsuit it filed against Hurd earlier this month after he joined Oracle as its new co-president, while Hurd has given up the roughly $30 million in stock options he received last month in his HP severance package.

HP sued Hurd earlier this month on the grounds that his employment at Oracle would inevitably lead to HP's trade secrets being compromised. But in a jointly issued press release, the two companies suggested that this was no longer an issue.

"While the terms of the settlement are confidential, Mr. Hurd will adhere to his obligations to protect HP's confidential information while fulfilling his responsibilities at Oracle," the companies said in the statement.

The agreement paves the way for HP and Oracle's longstanding partnership to continue. "HP and Oracle have been important partners for more than 20 years and are committed to working together to provide exceptional products and service to our customers," said Cathie Lesjak, chief financial officer and interim chief executive officer of HP, in a statement. "We look forward to collaborating with Oracle in the future."

A similar refrain was heard from the other side of the once-great-divide.

"Oracle and HP will continue to build and expand a partnership that has already lasted for over 25 years," said CEO Larry Ellison in the same release.

After HP sued Hurd on Sept. 7, Ellison threatened to end the two companies' partnership , accusing HP of "making it virtually impossible" to work together.

Though it is not clear who extended and who received the olive branch, or just how far each side had to go to reach an agreement, it would appear the impossible has now been made possible.

Which begs the question: Why wait until the day after HP's Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP's enterprise business, spoke at Open World to remove the giant elephant from the increasingly tense room?

Livermore, in a keynote speech Sunday, faced the uncomfortable situation of trying to downplay an impending lawsuit against Hurd, and she recited many of the figures which appear in today's statement -- including the fact that HP and Oracle share 140,000 customers.

In any event, HP partners are pleased to see the drama with Oracle finally subsiding.

"This is a great outcome," said Mark Gonzalez, president of Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and long-time HP channel partner.

"What really matters will be how all of this translates to working together in the field," Gonzalez said. "The reality is that both companies had a lot to lose when you consider the number of joint customers that they have. It's nice to see that both parties could come to a joint accommodation."

Joseph F. Kovar contributed to this story