HP Seeks Pre-Trial Court Ruling In Itanium Suit Against Oracle


Hewlett-Packard is seeking a court order stating that Oracle is contractually obligated to continue developing software for the Itanium processor. In a court filing Monday, HP also seeks dismissal of an Oracle countersuit in the increasingly bitter dispute between the two Silicon Valley giants.

"It is time for Oracle to quit pursuing baseless accusations and honor its commitments to HP and to our shared customers," HP said in a press release late Monday.

Oracle, which is seeking dismissal of HP's lawsuit, issued a statement calling HP's efforts a "campaign of lies about the Itanium road map."

[Related: The 10 Ugliest Legal Disputes of 2011]

A hearing on both companies' pre-trial requests is scheduled for April 30 while the trial is scheduled to begin May 31.

Oracle said 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 suit, arguing that Oracle had committed to continue supporting Itanium as part of the settlement of an earlier lawsuit related to Oracle's hiring of former HP CEO Mark Hurd in September 2010. HP filed that suit, which was resolved fairly quickly, charging that Hurd risked disclosing HP trade secrets to Oracle.

In a statement Monday, HP said information gleaned from Oracle executives during the pre-trial discovery process back its claim that "Oracle is contractually obligated to offer future versions of Oracle's software on Itanium." The statement recounted statements from Oracle executives -- including CEO Larry Ellison -- pledging cooperation between Oracle and HP and restating facts that it said show that Itanium remains a viable product.

"There is continued support for Itanium that extends out toward the end of this decade," HP said. "Statements that Itanium was at or near an end of life are false."

Oracle swiftly responded with a statement attributed to Oracle attorney Dan Wall. "Rather than filing a legal motion, HP has yet again filed a press release that continues its campaign of lies about the Itanium road map," he said. "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.

"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," Wall continued. "We are pleased the Court now has the evidence needed to see HP's purported contract claims for what they are."