HP dodges Oracle's court call for chief Leo Apotheker in SAP case


HP dodges Oracle's court call for chief Leo Apotheker in SAP case

Warwick Ashford

Hewlett-Packard has refused a subpoena for new chief executive Leo Apotheker to testify in Oracle's case over IP theft by an SAP subsidiary while he was CEO at SAP.

The suit, filed in 2007, alleged that SAP's TomorrowNow subsidiary illegally downloaded Oracle software and support materials to help lure away its customers.

The start of Apotheker's new role was due to coincide with the start of the trial on Monday, but Oracle said HP appears to be keeping him away from HP's headquarters and outside the court's jurisdiction, according to Reuters.

HP said that Oracle did not become interested in getting Apotheker to testify live in court until after he was named CEO of HP on 30 September.

"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," the statement said.

Just over a week ago, Oracle chief Larry Ellison challenged Apotheker to a showdown in court by issuing a statement claiming that the former SAP chief did have knowledge of the theft by subsidiary TomorrowNow while it was taking place.

Oracle is expected to call former Oracle president Charles Phillips and SAP executive John Zepecki to the stand today, as the trial enters its fourth day.

The trial is expected to focus on the amount of compensatory damages to be awarded to Oracle, as SAP has admitted fault, accepted liability and shut down TomorrowNow.

But according to US reports citing unnamed sources, SAP has agreed to pay $120m (£74m) to Oracle for legal fees in return for Oracle dropping claims for punitive damages.

SAP has until 9 November to pay, but the agreement still needs final approval by US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, sources said.

Oracle has claimed its total damages are greater than $2bn, although SAP says the damages should be only in the tens of millions.

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