HP, Oracle target pretrial wins in Itanium case

Bitterness reigns as the tech giants continue to duke it out over support for the microprocessor

The onset of spring has brought about a rebirth of hostilities in the struggle between technology behemoths Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) and Oracle Corp. The two companies have been battling for the past few years over a number of issues, but yesterday both parties sought pretrial victories in the dispute over whether Oracle can stop supporting the Itanium microprocessor.

In March 2011, Oracle announced it would discontinue Itanium support, claiming Intel Corp., the chip’s manufacturer, said the chip was nearing the end of its life and Intel planned to refocus its efforts on a different microprocessor. HP, however, says Oracle agreed to continue supporting Itanium in an earlier accord over Oracle’s hiring of former HP CEO Mark Hurd, and sued Oracle in California state court.

Oracle then countersued, claiming HP failed to disclose the terms of its contract with Intel.

“[It’s] a publicity stunt in a broader campaign to lay the blame on Oracle for the disruption that will occur when HP's Itanium-based server business inevitably comes to an end," Oracle said at the time.

Both parties argued before the court yesterday seeking judgment before the May 31 trial date. HP claimed that Oracle GC Dorian Daley had said at the time of the Hurd settlement that the settlement meant that the companies would continue to work together as they had in the past.

Oracle reiterated its position that Daley never intended the Hurt accord to be anything more than a symbolic statement, and was not legally binding.

"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 (at the) end of life," an Oracle attorney said in a statement.

A hearing on HP and Oracle’s requests is scheduled for April 30.

For more, read Reuters.

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