Hewlett-Packard Co. was “shocked” when Oracle Corp. abruptly announced last year that it would no longer provide software support and broke its contractual commitment, a Hewlett-Packard lawyer told a judge.
Attorney Jeff Thomas said today that the two companies had worked for years without written contracts on joint engineering to allow Oracle software to support Hewlett-Packard platforms. Six months after a settlement was reached over Mark Hurd’s transition from chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard to co-president at Oracle, that cooperation ended, Thomas said.
“Oracle abruptly announced its database software would not be available to HP customers and all that came to a screeching halt,” Thomas said in his opening statement at a trial in state court in San Jose, California. “HP was shocked. It never saw the announcement coming.”
Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest personal-computer maker, seeks a court order requiring Oracle to continue developing software for its servers that run on Intel Corp.’s Itanium chips and about $500 million in damages, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Without such an order, Hewlett-Packard estimates it should be awarded more than $4 billion in damages, based on an extrapolation to 2020 that accounts for projected losses, said the person, who didn’t want to be identified because the court document containing the damages request is confidential.
In the first phase of the trial, which is scheduled to last about three weeks, Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg must determine whether Oracle is contractually obligated to continue developing software for Hewlett-Packard’s Itanium-based servers. If so, a jury would determine in a second phase whether Oracle broke the contract and what if any damages should be awarded.
Thomas told Kleinberg today that Oracle made repeated assurances to Palo Alto, California-based Hewlett-Packard over the years that it would provide platform support. Oracle specifically told Hewlett-Packard that nothing would change after the database maker acquired Sun Microsystems Inc. in 2010,he argued.
“You have heard that all bets were off after Oracle bought Sun,” Thomas said. “That is not true.”
Oracle, based in Redwood City, California, began presenting its opening statement after Thomas finished.
The case is Hewlett-Packard Co. v. Oracle Corp., 11- cv-203163, California Superior Court, Santa Clara County (San Jose).
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