Ellison Blasts New HP CEO in Tangled Web over SAP Lawsuit

News Analysis: Larry Ellison contends that the incoming HP CEO was SAP's CEO when Oracle software was stolen and should testify under oath, which could lead to major complications for HP.

On the eve of the final skirmish in the legal war Oracle has been waging since 2007 with Germany-based databaser SAP, CEO Larry Ellison has been making some enterprise-size waves-and not just at his legal opponent.
Starting Monday at a courthouse in Oakland, Calif., Oracle and SAP will go before a judge and jury, who will decide how much SAP will be fined for one of its wholly-owned affiliates admittedly pilfering a lot of Oracle's enterprise support software and then essentially using it against Oracle for its own profit.
The amount of the fine could range from the tens of millions-which is what SAP thinks is appropriate-to $2.15 billion, which is an amount of damages Oracle says it suffered and SAP does not think appropriate.
Oracle based the $2.15 billion on its estimation of the value of the property SAP admitted stealing.
In March 2007, Oracle sued Texas-based SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow-which has been closed down-for stealing intellectual property by gaining unauthorized access to a customer-support Website and copying thousands of pages of software documentation and support software.
Oracle claimed that more than 8 million instances of its enterprise support software were stolen, stored on SAP's servers and used without its permission. It also charged that SAP/TomorrowNow deployed automated bots to carry out the bad deeds to help move customers from PeopleSoft (owned by Oracle) over to SAP.
Enterprise support software amounts to about half of Oracle's revenue, so this was no minor infraction.
SAP has acknowledged the illegal downloads took place but said the information never left TomorrowNow and that SAP never saw them. Oracle finds that very hard to believe.
There's more: Ellison also contends that the incoming CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Leo Apotheker, who was co-CEO of SAP when all this IP piracy was happening, knew all about the questionable goings-on, yet did nothing to prevent it for seven months.
Ellison contends that Apotheker was in effect the CEO at the time of the thefts and should testify under oath in this case, which would disrupt his first few weeks on the job at HP and could possibly expose him as a participant in the thievery, thus discrediting HP and its board for hiring him.
HP CEO out of the picture for now
eWEEK was told by a source familiar with the situation that Apotheker is out of the country touring HP locations, and thus cannot be subpoenaed to appear until he returns, although HP would not confirm or deny that to eWEEK. HP does not want him to have to testify for a number of reasons, its main one being that Apotheker doesn't need the distraction going into a huge new job. Fair enough.
SAP, a longtime partner of HP's, has said that TomorrowNow was essentially out of Apotheker's purview and that Apotheker wasn't CEO at the time of the misdeeds. SAP also charged Oct. 27 that Ellison is using the trial as part of his personal crusade against HP.
SAP's lawyers on Oct. 22 asked a federal judge to issue a gag order on Oracle's attorneys about all things related to the TomorrowNow lawsuit. The judge hadn't granted that as of Oct. 27.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...