Oracle Shouldn't Be Forced To Bend To HP's Will On Itanium

Meg WhitmanHP CEO Meg Whitman

Photo: AP

Closing arguments wrapped up yesterday in the trial between HP and Oracle.They are fighting over whether Oracle has the right to stop producing software for HP’s high-end Itanium servers.

Oracle has already promised to continue to support its current version of software for Itanium customers for 10 years.

We are not legal experts, but it would be a crime if Oracle was forced to continue making future versions of its software for Itanium. That’s because other major software vendors have already abandoned Itanium including Microsoft and Red Hat.

The Itanium chip is HP’s contract-produced baby. Making software for Itanium means making a special version of software only for HP’s customers. Given that Oracle and HP are now hardware competitors, why should Oracle have to do that when other software vendors don’t?

If the judge doesn’t make Oracle keep going, HP wants a whopping $4 billion in damages. That penalty is so high that Oracle would be paying for HP to come up with a new server.

The fight started when HP sued Oracle for hiring Hurd. The two settled. As part of that settlement, Oracle promised to continue supporting HP’s products the same way it had before Oracle hired Hurd.

HP says that Oracle ported its software to Itanium for years with no contract and that about 80 per cent of Itanium customers run Oracle software, HP’s lawyer said during the month-long trial, Computerworld reports. But Oracle’s co-President, Safra Catz the Hurd Agreement was nothing more than “a corporate hug.”

It’s hard to see how HP’s past success entitles it to sell servers to Oracle customers forever.

This sets a scary legal precedent for all companies. If HP wins, can your competitor can come along, sue you and make you continue on a course that serves itself best? If so, that would be a shame.

Don’t miss: Oracle’s Hardware Business Has Been A Mess — Here’s Who Employees Blame

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