Oracle loses appeal in HP row over Itanium

Next up: How much will it have to pay?


Oracle's last-ditch effort to wriggle out of a judgment requiring it to continue support for HP's Itanium-based servers has failed, leaving only the issue of damages to be resolved.

In August 2012, a San Jose, California court ruled that Oracle had violated the terms of its contract with HP when it announced that it would no longer produce versions of its database, middleware, and applications software for Intel's Itanium processors.

Oracle filed an appeal of that ruling in October, arguing that "HP's argument turns the concept of Silicon Valley 'partnerships' upside down."

But the California appeals court apparently disagreed with that view, and on Thursday it summarily denied Oracle's petition without further comment.

In the suit, HP argued that Oracle had entered into a legally binding agreement to continue to produce software for Itanium as part of its settlement of the earlier lawsuit over Oracle's hiring of former HP CEO Mark Hurd.

But Oracle countered that all of this business about Itanium was really more of a nod and a wink than an actual contract, and that it had never given HP any assurances about its future plans for the platform (or lack thereof). In fact, Oracle's lawyers contended, the Mark Hurd agreement never mentioned the word software at all.

The court rejected that argument, however, finding Oracle guilty of both breach of contract and promissory estoppel – the latter term meaning Oracle had damaged HP by willfully breaking a firm promise.

With Oracle's appeal now out of the way, the trial can move forward into its next phase, in which HP will make its case for damages. Those hearings are currently scheduled to begin in April.

Early in the suit, HP said that it would ask the court for as much as $4bn in damages – based on projected ongoing losses through 2020 – if Oracle did not resume production of software for Itanium. Since Oracle has, HP will likely seek something more in the realm of $500m.

HP and Oracle both declined to comment on Thursday's decision. ®

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