HP calls Oracle's secrecy claim a 'cheap shot'

HP has responded to Oracle's accusation that HP wants to keep information secret because it undermines its case

Hewlett-Packard and Oracle continued to throw mud at each other in an ugly court battle over Oracle's decision to drop support for Itanium, in which each side has accused the other of publicity stunts and unwarranted secrecy.

On Thursday, HP fired back against Oracle's claim last month that HP is trying to conceal information that would weaken its position in the case.

"Oracle argues in its Opposition that by moving to file its complaint under seal HP is trying to suppress the truth about the basis for its claims against Oracle. Nothing could be further from the truth," HP's lawyers wrote. "There is not a single word in HP's complaint that HP is not willing -- indeed eager -- to make public."

HP uses Intel's Itanium processor in servers running its HP-UX operating system. HP has accused Oracle of violating a contractual agreement when it decided to stop developing new software for Itanium. Oracle says there was no such legal agreement.

HP filed parts of its complaint under seal, including terms of a settlement agreement in the lawsuit that HP filed against its former CEO, Mark Hurd, after he took a job at Oracle. That settlement included a contractual commitment between the companies around continued product support, according to HP.

Oracle has minimized the significance of the pact, calling it no more than a "corporate hug" to show the companies had ended their animosity. Oracle also said that HP is trying to keep the settlement agreement under wraps because releasing it would hurt its case.

That's far from the truth, HP said in its filing Thursday.

"As Oracle well knows, HP filed its complaint with references to the Settlement Agreement redacted because at the insistence of all the parties -- Oracle, HP and Hurd -- the agreement contains a provision that precludes the parties from disclosing the terms of the agreement for any purpose," HP said. "HP was bound to honor the terms of the strict confidentiality provision and took the appropriate procedural steps to do so."

Yet Oracle decided to "land a cheap shot" against HP, the filing continues, by "inappropriately larding the record with misleading and inflammatory assertions about the merits of the case."

HP reiterated its belief that Oracle made a commitment to continue working with HP.

"Oracle argues that the provision is merely a 'general reaffirmation of a non-contractual 'partnership' that 'HP cannot seriously contend' requires Oracle to continue to port its database and other software to HP's platforms," the filing states. "Yet that is exactly what Oracle's own general counsel expressly told HP the provision meant during negotiation of the agreement."

While HP is willing to have an unredacted version of its complaint made public, the settlement agreement should remain sealed apart from the section concerning contractual obligations, the HP filing states.

Oracle decried HP's position without addressing specific allegations in its filing.

"Oracle is not interested in withholding anything from the public," Oracle said in a short statement. "The complaint and the settlement agreement should be fully disclosed immediately."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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