Ellison Threatens To Bring New HP CEO To Court In Industrial Espionage Trial

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is threatening to drag new HP CEO Leo Apotheker into court next week in an industrial espionage trial.

The trial centers on the theft of stolen customer materials from Oracle that covered at least some of the period when Apotheker was CEO of SAP.

Responding to comments from HP Chairman Ray Lane claiming that Oracle has never offered any evidence that Apotheker was involved in the theft of stolen Oracle material, Ellison said Oracle will provide that evidence next week during the damages portion of the Oracle-SAP industrial espionage trial.

"A few weeks ago I accused HP's new CEO, Leo Apotheker, of overseeing an industrial espionage scheme centering on the repeated theft of massive amounts of Oracle's software" Ellison's statement read. "A major portion of this theft occurred while Mr. Apotheker was CEO of SAP. HP's Chairman, Ray Lane, immediately came to Mr. Apotheker's defense by writing a letter stating, 'Oracle has been litigating this case for years and has never offered any evidence that Mr. Apotheker was involved.' Well, that's what we are planning to do during the trial that starts next Monday."

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Ellison said the only way that Apotheker will not be supboenead to testify in the trial is if the new HP CEO does not show up at HP's Palo Alto, Calif. headquarters. The showdown couldn't come at a worse time for Apotheker, who officially starts his new job as the CEO of HP on Monday.

"If HP keeps Leo Apotheker far from HP headquarters we cannot subpoena him to testify at that trial," the statement read. "I don't think Ray Lane wants to risk Leo Apotheker testifying under oath as to why he allowed the theft of Oracle property to continue for 8 months after he was made sole CEO of SAP. I hope I'm wrong, but my guess is that HP's new Chairman, Mr. Lane, will keep HP's new CEO, Mr. Apotheker, far, far away from the Courthouse until this trial is over."

NEXT: The Fallout Between Oracle and HP

HP and Oracle had close partners, often teaming up by selling high-end HP hardware with Oracle's enterprise software. But the alliance bagan to crack when Oracle acquired Sun this year and moved into the data center market, competing with HP.

The partnership further deteriorated when HP forced former CEO Mark Hurd to resign. Hurd, who is friends with Ellison, was quickly hired by Oracle as co-president, replaced former co-president Charles Phillips. HP then filed a lawsuit against Hurd to prevent him from joining Oracle, claiming "irreparable damage" HP faced if Hurd divulged company secrets to Oracle. The two sides eventually settled the lawsuit and Hurd joined Oracle last month.

Despite the settlement, the feud continued when HP gave its CEO job to Leo Apotheker, former chief executive at SAP and a major Oracle rival. In addition, HP named former Oracle president Ray Lane as its chairman. Ellison wrote a letter to The Wall Street Journal slamming HP's appointment of Apotheker, who Ellison claimed did a poor job as head of SAP.

Bob Venero, president and CEO of Future Tech Enterprise, a Holbrook, N.Y., VAR 500 company, said the move to bring Apotheker into the SAP Oracle trial "could be a legitimate court matter or a way for Oracle to create fear, uncertainty and doubt within HP's partner and customer community regarding HP leadership and the future direction of the company.

"From a partner's perspective it is too much rhetoric," said Venero. "Candidly the customer and partner community doesn’t need to be bothered with this."