Bloomberg News

Oracle Opposes HP Bid to Seal Court Records in Contract Suit

June 29, 2011

(Updates with Hewlett-Packard comment in sixth paragraph.)

June 29 (Bloomberg) -- Oracle Corp. asked a judge to reject an attempt by Hewlett-Packard Co. to seal court filings in the computer company’s breach-of-contract lawsuit against the software maker’s decision to end support for a product.

Lawyers for Redwood City, California-based Oracle contend officials of Palo Alto, California-based Hewlett-Packard overreached when they sought to have filings sealed in a suit over Oracle’s announcement that it would no longer support its database software on Hewlett-Packard computer servers that use the Itanium chip.

“Oracle asks the court to make clear now that this litigation will take place in the sunshine,” the company’s attorneys said in a filing today in state court in San Jose, California.

Hewlett-Packard sued Oracle earlier this month claiming the software maker went from partner to “bitter antagonist” by breaching agreements with the biggest personal computer maker. The suit cited Oracle’s hiring of Hewlett-Packard’s former Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd as one of the acts that soured the companies’ relationship.

The computer maker’s executives also alleged Oracle officials used “strong-arm tactics” to force customers to “shift from HP’s Itanium server hardware to Oracle’s own server hardware.” Oracle said in March it would no longer support its database software on Hewlett-Packard computer servers that use the Itanium chip, made by Intel Corp.

Itanium Chip

“Oracle has displayed serious contempt for the joint HP- Oracle customers they are contractually committed to serve,” Michael Thacker, an HP spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. “This is an important matter for HP, Oracle and the customers we share, and we look forward to proving our case openly in court.”

Oracle’s decision to stop supporting the Itanium chip that powers Hewlett-Packard’s line of Integrity servers will harm customers who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the equipment, Hewlett-Packard contends.

Hewlett-Packard has asked a California judge to seal filings in its suit because they reveal confidential information, including details of a settlement of litigation over Hurd’s defection, Oracle’s lawyers said in today’s filing.

Hurd left Hewlett-Packard in August after a company probe determined he violated its standards of business conduct in connection with a woman who served as one of the company’s contractors. The panel didn’t find Hurd had violated the company’s sexual-harassment policy.

‘No Basis’

Oracle’s lawyers noted in today’s filing that the settlement of litigation over Hurd’s hiring already has been made public and there’s no basis for sealing filings detailing it.

Hewlett-Packard’s request “is groundless because the settlement agreement is by its explicit terms not confidential in an action to enforce it -- which this case purports to be,” the lawyers said.

Hewlett-Packard is the main user of Itanium chips in servers sold to run large corporate databases and other demanding computing tasks, after jointly developing the chip with Intel.

Oracle is the largest maker of database software and became a competitor to Hewlett-Packard in servers through its acquisition of Sun Microsystems and its Sparc range of chips.

The case is Hewlett-Packard Co. v. Oracle Corp., 111CV203163, California Superior Court, Santa Clara County.

--With assistance from Joel Rosenblatt and Aaron Ricadela in San Francisco. Editors: Glenn Holdcraft, Charles Carter

To contact the reporter on this story: Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware, at jfeeley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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