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HPE Must Pay Oracle $30M In Long-Running Legal Dispute, Jury Rules

Steven Burke

In the finding from the United States District Court Northern District of California, the jury answered “yes” to claims that HPE directly infringed on copyright owned by Oracle.

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A California jury ruled that HPE owes Oracle $30 million in copyright damages for providing software updates for the Oracle Solaris operating system without permission from the database giant.

An HPE spokesperson said the company disagrees with the verdict and is evaluating its options.

In the United States District Court of Northern California verdict form, the ruling lists $30 million in damages for copyright infringement and another $24 million related to Oracle’s claims of interference. But Oracle is entitled only to the larger award, not the combined $54 million.

The June 14 jury ruling comes just one month after the US Supreme Court refused to hear Oracle’s appeal to overturn a a separate ruling that requires Oracle to pay HPE $3 billion in damages for violating a contract with HPE.

The jury in the latest ruling found that HPE and its hardware maintenance partner Terix had infringed on Oracle copyrights. Oracle had requested an award of $128 million, according to a report by Courthouse News Service.

Oracle had alleged that HPE knew that its partner hardware maintenance partner Terix had used unauthorized Oracle Solaris updates.

In the finding from the United States District Court Northern District of California, the jury answered “yes” to claims that HPE directly infringed on copyright owned by Oracle.

What’s more, the jury answered “Yes” to whether HPE engaged in “intentional interference with Oracle’s contractual relationships with customers at issue.”

CRN reached out to Oracle but had not heard back at press time.

The long-running dispute with HPE began after Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in 2010 for $7.4 billion. That gave Oracle Sun’s highly prized workstation business and rights to the Solaris operating system and put Oracle in direct competition with HP.

The Sun acquisition also put into a motion a move by Oracle to discontinue developing software for Intel’s Itanium processor which was being used by HPE.

HPE had argued that Oracle’s March 2011 announcement to no longer develop software for Itanium servers “was part of a calculated business strategy to drive hardware sales from Itanium to inferior Sun servers,” according to a statement from HPE in 2012. “This further demonstrates the fact that Oracle breached its contractual commitment to HP and ignored its repeated promises of support to our shared customers.“

In 2016, a California jury ordered Oracle to pay HPE $3 billion in damages in the long-running dispute between the two companies regarding Oracle‘s software support for HPE’s Itanium servers.

In HPE’s latest 10Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission it noted that on October 12, 2021, Oracle paid $4.66 billion, reflecting all amounts owed on the judgment plus accrued interest. That amount was divided with HP as a result of a separation agreement between the two companies.

In total, HPE said has received payment of approximately $2.35 billion, which was recognized as a gain from litigation judgment during the year ended October 31, 2021. On October 27, 2021, HP Inc. filed an acknowledgement of full satisfaction of judgment.

With the United States Supreme Court denying Oracle’s petition that contractual dispute is “now closed,” said HPE in the SEC filing.

Steven Burke

Steve Burke has been reporting on the technology industry and sales channel for over 30 years. He is passionate about the role of partners using technology to solve business problems and has spoken at conferences on channel sales issues. He can be reached at sburke@thechannelcompany.com.

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