Ellison to HP CEO: “Warrior, Come Out to Plaaeeay!
Oracle’s long-running legal battle with SAP and its now-shuttered TomorrowNow subsidiary goes to trial in an Oakland, Calif., courtroom next week. And as uncomfortable an event as it will be for SAP, which has already publicly acknowledged liability in the case, it promises to be even more so for former SAP chief Léo Apotheker, who was recently tapped to replace Mark Hurd as Hewlett-Packard’s CEO.
Apotheker’s first day as CEO of HP, Nov. 1, is also the first day of the trial. And he’s on Oracle’s witness list.
But if he’s called, will he show up?
Oracle’s not sure he will, but it wants everyone to know that it has big plans for him in the courtroom, whether he does or not.
In a statement Tuesday night, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison essentially dared Apotheker to appear on the witness stand, suggesting that HP’s newly appointed Chairman, Raymond Lane–a former Oracle president–might try to keep him from testifying.
“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 of Oracle’s software. A major portion of this theft occurred while Mr. Apotheker was CEO of SAP,” Ellison said in a statement.
“HP’s Chairman, Ray Lane, immediately came to Mr. Apotheker’s 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.”
Which is true–as a foreign national, Apotheker is under no legal obligation to appear at the trial if called to testify (his name has been on Oracle’s witness list since August 5, 2010–see image below). But given the recent war of words between Oracle and HP over his hiring, it would be odd for him not to, particularly if, as HP claims, he wasn’t involved in the IP theft at the center of Oracle’s suit.
That said, it seems HP is already setting the stage for Apotheker to be a no-show.
“Oracle had ample opportunity to question Leo during his sworn deposition in October 2008,” the company said in a statement. “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.”
One last thing: If you missed the reference in the headline of this post, here’s your explanation: