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Ellison warns HP/Apotheker

Here’s one of the weirder statements (attributable to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison) to hit reporters’ mailboxes in recent decades:

“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 Oracle’s software. A major portion of this theft occurred while Mr. Apotheker was CEO of SAP. HP’s Chairman, Ray Lane, immediately came to Mr. Apotheker defense 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. If HP keeps Leo Apotheker far from HP headquarters we cannot subpoena him to testify at that trial.

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 8 months after he was made sole CEO of SAP. I hope I’m wrong, but my guess is that new HP’s Chairman, Mr. Lane, will keep HP’s new CEO, Mr. Apotheker, far, far away from the Courthouse until this trial is over.”

Some background: Oracle sued SAP three years ago, alleging that a subsidiary (TomorrowNow) engaged in wide-spread trade secret theft–using customers’ access to Oracle upgrades and documentation to download proprietary Oracle information.

Now all of that is playing out in what looks to be a battle royale between Oracle and HP. In August, HP canned its CEO Mark Hurd. Oracle quickly hired him as co-president. HP, then sued Hurd because the new Oracle, with its Sun franchise, is a hardware rival to HP. That suit went away, but then HP hired Leo Apotheker, ex-CEO of Oracle arch-enemy SAP,  as its Hurd replacement. And  it brought on a respected former Oracle board member Ray Lane as chairman of the board. That executive suite move made HP seem a tad, um, obsessed  with Oracle.

And the obsession appears to be reciprocated. Ellison’s PR team sent out the statement late on October 26–Apotheker doesn’t officially join HP until November 1.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Barbara Darrow, Senior News Director at, or follow us on twitter.

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