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HP parries Ellison's 'industrial espionage' subpoena

Hides new CEO

HP has refused to accept Oracle's subpoena for brand-new CEO Leo Apotheker, denying Larry Ellison's effort to put the Apotheker on the stand in this week's court battle between Oracle and archrival SAP.

"Hewlett Packard has refused to accept service of a subpoena requiring Mr. Apotheker to testify about his role in SAP’s illegal conduct,” Oracle said in a statement, as All Things Digital reports.

“Mr. Apotheker started work for HP on Monday, but it now appears that the HP Board of Directors has decided to keep him away from HP’s headquarters and outside the court’s jurisdiction,” the statement continues.

Last week, Oracle boss Larry Ellison threatened that Oracle would toss a subpoena at Apotheker, who once served as SAP CEO, and the Oracle man predicted — in a rambling statement — that HP would keep him "far, far away" from HP headquarters during his first week on the job.

"A few weeks ago I accused HP's new CEO, Leo Apotheker, of overseeing an industrial espionage scheme centering on the repeated theft of massive amounts of Oracle's software," Ellison said. "HP's Chairman, Ray Lane, immediately came to Mr Apotheker's defence by writing a letter stating, 'Oracle has been litigating this case for years and has never offered any evidence that Mr Apotheker was involved.'

"Well, that's what we are planning to do during the trial that starts next Monday — unless Mr Lane and the rest of the HP Board of Directors decide to keep their new CEO far, far away from HP Headquarters until that trial is over...I don't think Ray Lane wants to risk Leo Apotheker testifying under oath as to why he allowed the theft of Oracle's property to continue for eight months after he was made sole CEO of SAP. I hope I'm wrong, but my guess is that HP's new chairman, Mr Lane, will keep HP's new CEO, Mr Apotheker, far, far away from the courthouse until this trial is over."

According to Oracle, it has indeed attempted a subpoena. And in statement tossed at All Things Digital, HP indicated that it has no intention of accepting it. "Oracle had ample opportunity to question Leo during his sworn deposition in October 2008 and chose not to include him as a live trial witness until he was named CEO of HP,” HP said. “Given Leo’s limited knowledge of and role in the matter, Oracle’s last-minute effort to require him to appear live at trial is no more than an effort to harass him and interfere with his duties and responsibilities as HP’s CEO.”

Oracle sued SAP in 2007, claiming that its TomorrowNow subsidiary illegally downloaded Oracle software and support docs in an effort to lure customers away from the company. SAP has admitted wrongdoing, and it has shut down TomorrowNow. But damages have yet to be decided.

Earlier in the week, SAP and Oracle filed a joint stipulation in a Northern California federal court that would see SAP pay Ellison and company $120m for "past and future reasonable attorneys fees and costs." But it appears that Ellison and company are intent on going after Apotheker simply because he's been named HP CEO. HP named Apotheker CEO after dumping Ellison's tennis buddy Mark Hurd, who has now joined Oracle. Ellison called the HP board "idiots" for dumping Hurd.

Last month, Ellison accused Apotheker of engaging in an "industrial espionage scheme" while at SAP, and he called HP chairman Ray Lane a liar for defending the new HP boss. "HP chairman Ray Lane has taken the position that Leo Apotheker is innocent of wrongdoing because he didn't know anything about the stealing going on at SAP while Leo was CEO. The most basic facts of the case show this to be an absurd lie," Ellison said in a statement.

"Leo knew all about the stealing. In fact, Leo did not stop the stealing until seven months after he became CEO. Why so long? We'd like to know. Ray Lane and the rest of the HP Board do not want anyone to know. That's the new HP Way with Ray in charge and Leo on the run. It's time to change the HP tagline from 'Invent' to 'Steal'." ®

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