Hewlett-Packard has reportedly sued former channel chief Adrian Jones, charging that he stole proprietary information about HP products and customers before leaving to take a job with arch rival Oracle last month.
The lawsuit is the latest salvo in what has become an ugly tit-for-tat series of disputes between HP and Oracle.
The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of California, Santa Clara County, charges that Jones stole documents and e-mails on a USB device containing "proprietary and valuable information" about HP's products and customers, according to a Reuters story. The suit demands the return of all documents and calls for the awarding of unspecified damages.
An Oracle spokeswoman said the company declined to comment on the reported lawsuit.
In the suit HP said it was about to fire Jones in February after an investigation into his relationship with a subordinate and spurious expense claims, according to the Reuters story. Jones was senior vice president of enterprise storage, servers and networking for HP Asia Pacific at the time of his departure.
Jones served as HP Americas channel chief from March 2007 to October 2009 before taking the Asia Pacific job.
Last month Jones took on the post of senior vice president of Asia Pacific/Japan at Oracle, reuniting him with Mark Hurd, the former HP CEO who was appointed Oracle president in September.
Hurd resigned from HP in August after he was found to be in violation of the company's Standards of Business Conduct.
In an echo of its lawsuit against Jones,
HP sued Hurd right after he took the Oracle post, charging that he could use HP trade secrets in his new job to compete against HP. That led to a series of blistering responses from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. The two companies settled that suit a few weeks later.
The lawsuit against Jones is the latest twist in the deteriorating relationship between one-time allies Oracle and HP. The tension began after Oracle acquired Sun Microsoft in January 2010, bringing it into direct competition with HP and its computer hardware products.
Next: Partners Express Concern Over HP-Oracle Spat
Just last week, HP CEO and President Leo Apotheker sharply criticized Oracle for its decision to stop developing its highly regarded database software for Intel's Itanium platform, the engine for HP's high end systems. What's more, HP is waging a public campaign to get solution providers and customers to get Oracle to reverse that decision.
Martin Tarr, CEO of Tiburon Technologies, an Independence, Ohio solution provider that has recommended both Oracle and HP solutions, said he sees it as a non-event. "From an outsider perspective watching Oracle and HP go at it, I don’t think it's a story about providing value to their customers," he said. "It is more like watching two Sumo wrestlers argue about who had a bigger breakfast. It doesn’t affect my relationship with HP or Oracle, but it is interesting to read the IT tabloid news regarding HP Oracle."
Tarr said it is ironic that the lawsuit comes after Oracle itself won $1.3 billion in a copyright infringement case against SAP. "Oracle is certainly familiar with someone taking their proprietary tachnology as evidenced by the lawsuit they won against SAP," said Tarr. "If this is true that someone left HP with proprietary information and went to Oracle, then Oracle is going to find that the sword cuts both ways."
One HP solution provider who did not want to be identified, said he was saddened by the lawsuit. "I just can't see Adrian doing this," said the source. "And what would Adrian possibly know or bring to Oracle that Mark Hurd, the former CEO of HP, already didn't know."