Judge Rules Oracle Can't Quit Itanium Software Development


A California superior court judge has issued his final decision in the HP-Oracle Itanium lawsuit, ruling that Oracle is obligated to continue developing its software for Hewlett-Packard's Itanium-based servers as long as HP continues to manufacture the products.

The 44-page decision issued Tuesday by Judge James Kleinberg, of the Superior Court of California, Santa Clara County, enforces his earlier, preliminary decision on Aug. 1 that handed HP a victory in its bitter dispute with Oracle.

"Oracle's obligation to continue to offer its product suite on HP's Itanium-based server platform lasts until such time as HP discontinues the sale of its Itanium-based servers," Kleinberg wrote.

[Related: Oracle, HP Release Documents That Paint Ugly Pictures Of Each Other]

Oracle has already vowed to appeal the decision. The damages Oracle allegedly owes HP -- the company said it may seek up to $500 million in damages -- will be determined in a jury trial.

Oracle announced in March 2011 that it would no longer develop its software for Itanium, an Intel processor HP uses in some of its server lines. Oracle has taken the position that Itanium is nearing the end of its life -- a fact Oracle said HP is trying to hide to preserve its Itanium-related business as long as possible.

HP filed a breach-of-contract suit arguing that Oracle had committed to continue supporting Itanium as part of a Sept. 20, 2010, settlement of an earlier lawsuit related to Oracle's hiring of former HP CEO Mark Hurd.

After 12 days of testimony in June, Kleinberg handed down his Aug. 1 preliminary decision, agreeing with HP that Oracle must continue developing its software for HP's Itanium servers. This week's ruling is largely unchanged from the preliminary decision.

"The settlement and release agreement entered into by HP, Oracle and Hurd on September 20, 2010, requires Oracle to continue to offer its product suite on HP's Itanium-based server platforms and does not confer on Oracle the discretion to decide whether to do so or not," Kleinberg wrote in yesterday's decision.

"Oracle is required to port its products to HP's Itanium-based servers without charge to HP," the judge added. He said "product suite" refers to any Oracle software products that were offered on HP Itanium servers at the time of the Sept. 20, 2010, agreement.

PUBLISHED AUG. 29, 2012