Oracle's Ellison alleges new HP CEO in on SAP scheme

Ellison says Apotheker was part of scheme to steal Oracle software

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison on Tuesday vowed to prove that new Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker was in on a scheme to steal large amounts of Oracle software, when Apotheker was CEO of software maker SAP.

"A major portion of this theft occurred while Mr. Apotheker was CEO of SAP," Ellison alleged in a statement issued by Oracle.

He said Oracle will offer evidence that Apotheker was involved when the trial starts next Monday in a federal court in Oakland, California.

Ellison also suggested HP keep Apotheker away from HP headquarters so he cannot be subpoenaed to testify at trial.

"I don't think Ray Lane wants to risk Leo Apotheker testifying under oath as to why he allowed the theft of Oracle property to continue for 8 months after he was made sole CEO of SAP," he said. Lane is non-executive chairman of the board at HP and was formerly president and COO of Oracle.

In a rebuttal, HP said Oracle declined to question Apotheker when it had the opportunity to do so during his sworn deposition over the SAP matter in October of 2008, and did not include him as a trial witness until he was named CEO of HP.

"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," HP said in an e-mailed statement.

Oracle is seeking billions of dollars in damages in the case. It has accused SAP and its TomorrowNow subsidiary of stealing thousands of bits of software, including big fixes and patches, as well as other support material from Oracle in order to provide reduced-price maintenance service for Oracle customers.

SAP has admitted to illegal downloads from an Oracle website and the trial is expected to focus on how much the German software maker should pay Oracle in damages.

SAP has maintained that Apotheker and other top executives did not know about the illegal downloads initially and then moved to stop them once they discovered the problem. Oracle has maintained that SAP executives knew about the issue for years.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison on Tuesday vowed to prove that new Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker was in on a scheme to steal large amounts of Oracle software, when Apotheker was CEO of software maker SAP.

"A major portion of this theft occurred while Mr. Apotheker was CEO of SAP," Ellison alleged in a statement issued by Oracle.

He said Oracle will offer evidence that Apotheker was involved when the trial starts next Monday in a federal court in Oakland, California.

SAP fired back on Wednesday against Ellison, saying Ellison made a significant error in the heated missive.

Oracle is suing SAP over intellectual-property violations committed by its now-defunct TomorrowNow subsidiary, in a case set to go to trial next week.

Oracle charges that TomorrowNow workers used its software illegally to provide discount support services to Oracle applications users. SAP has acknowledged wrongdoing by TomorrowNow and agreed to accept liability for its actions, but maintains that SAP did not play a role.

Ellison issued a statement late Tuesday that said Apotheker, who is now CEO of Hewlett-Packard, "allowed the theft of Oracle's property to continue for 8 months after he was made sole CEO of SAP."

But Apotheker was named sole CEO of SAP on June 1, 2009, and TomorrowNow ceased operations as of Oct. 31, 2008, SAP said in a statement Wednesday.

However, it's not as if Apotheker was a low-level employee prior to June 1, 2009,having served since April 2008 as co-CEO along with Henning Kagermann.

An Oracle spokeswoman declined comment on Ellison's remarks. HP has called them an attempt to harass Apotheker.

Overall, the tit-for-tat spat over Apotheker's employment history with SAP is reflective of the acrimony that has marked the sprawling lawsuit, which Oracle first filed in March 2007.

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