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HP Wins Key Itanium Legal Decision Against Oracle

Oracle immediately said it will appeal and pursue its counterclaims

A California Superior Court judge Wednesday ruled that Oracle contracted to port its software to HP's Itanium-based servers until HP phases out the machines and that HP doesn't have to pay Oracle anything for the critical widgetry.

Oracle immediately said it will appeal and pursue its counterclaims.

"We know that Oracle did not give up its fundamental right to make platform engineering decisions in the 27 words HP cites from the settlement of an unrelated employment agreement," Oracle said in a statement. "HP's argument turns the concept of Silicon Valley ‘partnerships' upside down."

HP, which sucks a fortune out of the Itanium's installed base, was thrilled to death with the decision and said it expects Oracle to comply.

A jury will now decide if HP is entitled to the $4 billion in damages it's claiming for breach of contract. Many customers abandoned the platform when Oracle said a year ago March that it would stop writing software for it.

Oracle made the alleged contractual promise - whose language the judge called "clear and unambiguous" - when it settled an HP lawsuit against its co-president Mark Hurd, the ousted former CEO of HP.

"The settlement and release agreement entered into by HP, Oracle and Hurd on September 20, 2010, requires Oracle to continue to offer its product suite on HP's Itanium-based server platforms and does not confer on Oracle the discretion to decide whether to do so or not," the judge wrote. He figures the written exchanges leading up to the Hurd settlement made it clear that Oracle has an obligation to write the software.

The critical passage reads: "Oracle and HP reaffirm their commitment to their longstanding strategic relationship and their mutual desire to continue to support their mutual customers. Oracle will continue to offer its product suite on HP platforms, and HP will continue to support Oracle products (including Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM) on its hardware in a manner consistent with that partnership as it existed prior to Oracle's hiring of Hurd."

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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