HP asks judge to enforce Itanium contract vs. Oracle

SAN JOSE, California Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:23pm EDT

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SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) - Hewlett-Packard Co told a judge on Tuesday that Oracle Corp should be ordered to make its software available on HP's Itanium-based servers for as long as HP sells them.

Lawyers for HP and Oracle presented closing arguments in a California state court for the first phase in a bitter lawsuit between the two tech giants. HP attorney Jeffrey Thomas said Oracle was contractually obligated to support Itanium, but Oracle lawyer Dan Wall disagreed.

"HP is using litigation to try to get a contract that HP doesn't have," Wall said.

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 a lawsuit over Oracle's hiring of ousted HP chief executive Mark Hurd.

HP seeks up to $4 billion in damages.

Instead of a jury, Santa Clara Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg will decide the first phase of the trial -- namely, whether there is a contract between HP and Oracle, and its terms. If Kleinberg decides in HP's favor, then a jury will decide whether Oracle violated the contract, and damages.

In May, Kleinberg compared the case to a divorce, saying "this case appears to be the end of a marriage" between the technology giants.

HP's Thomas on Tuesday said emails from Oracle general counsel Dorian Daley support HP's view of the Hurd agreement.

"The negotiations are consistent with HP's interpretation and cannot be squared with Oracle's," Thomas said.

However, Wall said Oracle specifically rejected HP's effort to expand the Hurd settlement to include business commitments like porting.

"We have not one statement by one Oracle employee that yes, we promised to port our future software to HP," Wall said.

Kleinberg indicated he would not rule before mid-July.

The case in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa Clara is Hewlett-Packard Company v. Oracle Corporation, No. 11-CV-203163.

(Reporting By Poornima Gupta; Writing by Dan Levine, editing by Bernard Orr)

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