HP and Oracle Go to|War Over Itanium Chip

     SAN JOSE (CN) – Hewlett-Packard accuses its former ally Oracle Corp. of reneging on promises to support HP’s high-end systems and using strong-arm tactics against HP customers.

     Large sections are blacked out in the complaint – including the first three of 10 charges, which include defamation and interference.
     In its 25-page complaint, Hewlett-Packard claims that “in a mere eight months, Oracle has gone from arm-in-arm ‘partnership; with Hewlett-Packard to bitter antagonist.”
     Despite the extensive redactions, the complaint makes clear that tensions began to mount last year after Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, then announced that it would no longer enable its latest software to run on HP’s flagship line of servers. Oracle then enticed Mark Hurd to step down as CEO of HP to take a senior position with Oracle.
     “For years, Oracle told HP and the market that it was committed to working in partnership with HP so that the two companies’ products would be compatible,” according to the complaint in Santa Clara County Court.
     “Oracle has now abandoned that approach and has made clear that it will no longer be governed by the best interests of customers, by the boundaries of a partnership, or by its contractual commitments and promises.”
     At the heart of the lawsuit is a dispute Intel’s Itanium computer chip, which HP uses in its high-end servers.
     Oracle announced in March this year that new versions of its software would not run on HP’s Itanium-based server platform, and that it was discontinuing software development for platforms using the Itanium microprocessor.
     “At the same time, Oracle also made a series of false statements about HP and the future of the Itanium product, on their face designed to create uncertainty in the minds of HP customers and weaken confidence in the Itanium platform,” the complaint states.
     Since then, HP says, Oracle has breached its contractual commitments to HP and its promises of continuing support to customers, and has tried to coerce users of those systems to adopt Sun servers, sold by Oracle.
     Among other things, HP says, Oracle refused to fix software bugs for users of Itanium-powered HP machines, while offering Sun servers for free.
     In a statement, Oracle called the lawsuit “utterly malicious and meritless.”
     HP seeks injunctive relief, general, special, punitive and treble damages and court costs on claims of breach of implied contract, defamation, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, and multiple violations of California’s Business and Professions Code – and three charges that have been blacked out.
     HP is represented by Robert E. Cooper with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles.

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