HP seeks pretrial ruling in Itanium lawsuit against Oracle

Oracle has also filed for summary adjudication in the case

Hewlett-Packard filed Monday for a pretrial ruling that Oracle is contractually required to offer future versions of its software on the Itanium platform, claiming that an agreement between HP and Intel ensured that the Itanium was not an end-of-life processor as claimed by Oracle.

Oracle has also asked for summary adjudication in the case which is scheduled to come up for trial on May 31.

The company announced in March last year its decision not to support servers running Intel's Itanium processors on new versions of its products including its database, as the processors were nearing end of life.

HP, which uses the chip in its high-end servers, sued Oracle in June before the Superior Court of California, Santa Clara County.

Oracle alleged that HP had fraudulently induced it to enter into the agreement, as it withheld information that it was secretly paying Intel US$88 million a year to artificially continue the Itanium processor's life span and represent to its public its long term commitment, when Intel otherwise would have ceased development of the processor.

Judge James P. Kleinberg of the Superior Court however rejected in January Oracle's bid to use a fraud claim to undo an agreement with HP to support the Itanium processor, stating that the alleged fraud did not prevent Oracle from participating in the negotiations or deprive it of the opportunity to negotiate.

The details of how HP delivered its products, including its arrangements with Intel, are irrelevant and cannot support a claim for fraudulent non-disclosure or false advertising under either federal or state law, HP said in its motion on Monday.

The allegedly "secret" contract between HP and Intel to ensure continued supply of the Itanium confirmed that there is a plan for uninterrupted production of multiple generations of Itanium microprocessors, supported by contract, it added.

The HP motion submits that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison admitted under oath that Intel CEO Paul Otellini did not say that the Itanium processor was nearing the end of its life. Ellison had earlier testified that he relied on a conversation with Intel's Otellini before making his decision to issue Oracle's announcement that the processor was nearing the end of its life.

Intel executive Kirk Skaugen is said to have testified that the amended agreement between Intel and HP gave it access to the Itanium microprocessor through 2022, and that HP could extend it even longer.

HP is seeking a pretrial summary judgment that Oracle is contractually obligated to offer future versions of Oracle's software on Itanium, as there is no "triable issue of material fact."

Its other motion seeks summary judgment and dismissal of Oracle's cross-complaint and its claims against HP.

HP maintains that its settlement agreement in 2010 with Mark Hurd, former CEO of HP, who later joined Oracle as president, included a provision that Oracle will continue to port its software to the Itanium platform. Oracle has denied any obligation in its own filing on Monday, describing HP's lawsuit against Hurd as an "employment dispute."

The litigation had nothing to do with whether Oracle ported software to HP, the prices Oracle charged for its software when it ran on HP platforms, or any other commercial matter, Oracle said in the filing.

"We don't believe, nor do we think HP really believes, that a settlement agreement relating to Mark Hurd's employment could possibly obligate Oracle to write new software for a platform that is clearly end of life," Oracle counsel Dan Wall said in a statement on Monday. "We are pleased the Court now has the evidence needed to see HP's purported contract claims for what they are," he added.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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