HP says Oracle violated contract, seeks billions
By Dan Levine and Poornima Gupta
SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) - Oracle Corp violated a clear contract with Hewlett-Packard Co when it decided it would no longer make new versions of its database software compatible with HP's Itanium-based servers, a lawyer for HP said in court.
As the two firms faced off on Monday in opening statements in a bitter lawsuit over Oracle's decision to end support for Itanium, an Oracle attorney countered that Oracle had never agreed to give up its business flexibility in the "brief, breezy" contract language cited by HP.
The trial, in which HP seeks up to $4 billion in damages, comes just days after Oracle lost a separate high-stakes case against Google Inc over smartphone technology.
Oracle decided to stop developing software for use with Itanium last year, saying Intel made it clear that the chip was nearing the end of its life and was shifting its focus to its x86 microprocessor.
But HP said it had an agreement with Oracle that support for Itanium would continue, without which the equipment using the chip would become obsolete. HP said that commitment was affirmed when it settled an earlier lawsuit over Oracle's hiring of ousted HP chief executive Mark Hurd.
In court on Monday, HP lawyer Jeffrey Thomas said the Hurd settlement clearly bound Oracle to continue offering its "best products" to HP.
As a sign of the importance of the contract, top executives from both companies -- including Oracle President Safra Catz and then-HP enterprise chief Ann Livermore -- negotiated the deal, Thomas said.
"It is impossible to offer best products going forward without porting new versions of those products," Thomas said. Continued...