HP Claims Oracle Threat An Attempt To Interfere With New HP CEO's Duties

Hewlett Packard claims that Oracle's threat to drag new HP CEO Leo Apotheker into court next week is nothing more than "an effort to harass him and interfere with his duties and responsibilities as HP's CEO."

Ellison wants to put Apotheker, the former CEO of software giant SAP, on the witness stand in the penalty phase of an industrial espionage trial in which SAP has admitted stealing Oracle software.

In fact, Ellison says that if Apotheker, who officially starts his job as HP's new CEO on Monday, shows up at HP's Palo Alto,Calif headquarters next week then the new HP CEO will be spending at least some of his time answering questions in the Oracle SAP trial.

HP, for its part, won't talk about whether Apotheker will be at HP headquarters next week. "We don’t discuss the schedules or specific whereabouts of our executives," says an HP spokesperson.

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’Oracle had ample opportunity to question Leo during his sworn deposition in October 2008 and chose not to include him as a trial witness until he was named CEO of HP," said HP. "Given Leo’s limited knowledge of and role in the matter, Oracle’s last-minute effort to require him to appear live at trial is no more than an effort to harass him and interfere with his duties and responsibilities as HP’s CEO.’

Next: Should Apotheker Be Called To Task?

Ellison, however, says that Apotheker should be called to task for his actions with regard to the SAP theft of Oracle software.

’HP Chairman Ray Lane has taken the position that (HP CEO) Leo Apotheker is innocent of wrongdoing because he didn’t know anything about the stealing going on at SAP while Leo was CEO," said Ellison in a statement on Wednesday. "The most basic facts of the case show this to be an absurd lie. Oracle sued SAP for stealing in March of 2007. Leo became CEO of SAP in April of 2008. Leo knew all about the stealing. In fact, Leo did not stop the stealing until 7 months after he became CEO. Why so long? We’d like to know. Ray Lane and the rest of the HP Board do not want anyone to know. That’s the new HP Way with Ray in charge and Leo on the run. It’s time to change the HP tagline from ’Invent’ to 'Steal’.’

"If HP keeps Leo Apotheker far from HP headquarters we cannot subpoena him to testify at that trial," said Ellison. "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," said Ellison.

The Ellison attack comes with HP partners questioning whether Apotheker will develop the same kind of tight channel relationships as former HP CEO Mark Hurd, who joined Oracle as Co-President last month. This after the highly regarded Hurd was pushed out of his job as HP CEO in August for filing inaccurate expense reports and violating HP's code of conduct.

One top HP partner, who did not want to be identified, said it is critical that Apotheker meet with channel partners and share his view on the role of the channel going forward. "He could come in and change (channel) programs," said the partner. "We don't know. Maybe he will be better. Maybe he will help us. But we don't know. I hope he doesn't change everything because I think things are going pretty well right now. He hasn't reached out to say anything. There is so much uncertainty. I am very nervous."